His autograph from the Originalin. the PofsefsioTvof
WITH TWELVE ILLUSTRATIONS.
G. RANGECROFT & Co.,
ST. JOHN'S HILL, BATTERSBA, LONDON, S.W.
THE author of this work, in placing before the
public the fruits of over three years' labour and
research, has presented the results in a reliable,
rather than a showy manner, and has sacrificed for this,
perhaps, some effects of literary adornment.
"Historic Battersea" will arrest general attention —
apart from sociological interest — principally because it is
the first effort to place before readers anything approach-
ing a complete history of Battersea.
The material from which this book has been slowly
upbuilt, has been obtained from the archives of West-
minster Abbey, the Record Office, the British Museum,
and other reference libraries containing old manuscripts
and books relating to the work undertaken.
Battersea of to-day, with a rateable value of over
one million of money, can here be compared with the
11 Patricesey " of the time of William the Conqueror, and
it's evolution traced from that period, through the eras of
Bolingbroke and Wilberforce to the present day. It will
be noted that what at one time, in the late eighteenth
century, was one of the most desirable suburban residential
districts for the wealthy, fell from its high repute, until it
became a veritable pandemonium on earth, and the resort
of the most undesirable. One of the reasons for this will
probably be found in the chapters dealing with the Red
House and its environments, and the Sunday orgies per-
mitted in the neighbourhood of Battersea Fields.
The author acknowledges his indebtedness, and
conveys his thanks to those who kindly loaned to him
some of the engravings reproduced in this work, forming
the most complete set of pictures of Old Battersea ever
brought together in one volume.
In conclusion, it may be pointed out that a meed of
praise is due to the publishers for the whole-hearted
manner in which they have co-operated with the author
in submitting this concise and handy volume of historical
reference for the approval of the public.
List of Illustrations xi.
I. The Antiquity of Battersea.
The Origin of the Name— Ancient Records —
Old Charters— Forest Land— The Manor of
Battersea — The Stanley Family — The St.
John Family — Ford Across the River —
Ancient Finds 1-4
II. EARLY BATTERSEA.
Marsh Land— Old Parish Church— The Plague
— Windmills — Old Battersea Bridge — Water
Supply— Falcon Brook — Battersea Creek —
Market Gardens — River Watermen — Thames
Regatta— First Training College— The Hamlet
of Penge— Traders' Tokens— Wages in 1815—
The Stocks 5-15
ill. later battersea.
Falcon Lane — Manor House, St. John's Hill —
Turner — Battersea Square — The Priory — First
Steamer on the Thames — Carlyle — Surrey
Lane — Stage Coaches — First Railway — Black
Records — Dr. Watson and Electricity 16-23
IV. The Commons.
Their origin — Common Rights — Common
Fields — Latchmoor Common — Enclosing
Common Land — Clapham and Battersea
Boundary Dispute — Free Fights — Penge
Common— Legal Rights— The Landgrabbers 24-27
V. BATTERSEA FIELDS.
Battersea Fields, 1740— Highwaymen and Foot-
pads — Sunday Carnivals — Dog Carts — The
Balloon Gardens — A Historic Duel — Mr. Long
— Battersea Park 28-31
VI. BATTERSEA WORTHIES.
Owen Ridley— Henry Elsynge — Dr Thomas
Temple— Henry St. John, Lord Bolingbroke
—Bishop Patrick — Dr. Thomas Church —
William Wilberforce — John Gardner — Thomas
Astle — Theodore Janssan — Joseph Hughes —
John Cullum 32-51
VII. BATTERSEA ENAMEL.
The Founder of the Works — Hancock and his
Assistants— The Art of Enameling — Transfer
Printing, French Enamels— Bilston Enamels
— Birmingham and Liverpool Enamels —
Famous Collections 52-57
viii. Famous Battersea Houses.
York House — Bolingbroke House — Sherwood
Lodge — The Red House — Broomfield —
Lubbock House 58-68
IX. Old Time Taverns.
The Falcon— The White Hart— The Old Swan
—The Old House— The Raven— Star and
Garter— Nine Elms Tavern— The Old House
at Home — The Plough 69-73
X. BATTERSEA INDUSTRIES.
Lime Works— Pottery Works— Foundry— Sal-
mon Fishing — Boat and Barge Building —
Silk Factory — Wicker Works — Bowley's Oil
and Colour Works— Fownes' Glove Factory
— Battersea Soap Works — Brunei's Saw
Mills— Shoe Factory— The Starch Works-
Price's Candle Works— Nine Elms Gas Works 74-86
XL BATTERSEA AND BOTANY.
Indigenous Plants and Flowers — Pamplin's
Nurseries — Rural Aspect of Battersea in 1800 87-91
XII. BATTERSBA bequests.
John Banks — Ann Cooper — John Edmonds —
Mark Bell — Rebecca Wood — Anthony Haldi-
mand — John Pavin — Thomas Archer — Buck
and Purkins— John Shewell — John Rapps —
Henry Tritton — John Constable — Edwin
Thompson — Henry Juer — Edward Dagnall —
Henry Smith— The Ely Charity— Elizabeth
Copeland— Emma Webb— Lost Charities 92-98
XIII. BATTERSEA CHURCHES.
St. Mary's— Wesleyan Church— St. George's—
Methodist Free Church — Christ Church —
Church of the Sacred Heart— The Church of
Our Lady— The "New" Baptist Church—
St. John's — St. Saviour's — Congregational
Church — The Old Baptist Meeting House —
St. Mark's— St. Matthew's— St. Peter's 99-103
Past Vicars of Battersea 104-105
XIV. BATTERSEA SCHOOL.
National Schools— Night Schools— The First
Factory School — St. John's School — The
Grove School — St. Mary's School — St.
George's School — Christ Church School —
The Masonic School — St James' School 106- no
XV. local Government.
The Vestry— Highway Board— Board of Works
— The Burial Board — First Elected Vestry —
The Baths — Public Library — Lammas Hall —
Incorporation — First Ratepayers' Association
— Municipal Buildings — Morden Cemetery —
Borough Council 111-116
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS:
HENRY St. JOHN, LORD BOLJNGBROKE, 1717-
OLD BATTERSEA BRIDGE, 1771-1887.
THAMES REGATTA, 1775.
BATTERSEA REACH, 1778.
THE PARISH CHURCH, 1780.
WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, 1780.
BATTERSEA ENAMELS, 1750-1762.
"THE RED HOUSE," 1830.
"THE FALCON TAVERN," 1789.
"THE PLOUGH," St. JOHN'S HILL, 1790.
LUBBOCK HOUSE, BATTERSEA RISE, 1794-
BATTERSEA RISE, 1798.
THE ANTIQUITY OF BATTERSEA.
THE origin of the name Battersea is lost in antiquity,
some of our best historians give various surmises as
to the meaning of the word, but their reasoning has
not much support in matter-of-fact evidence. The earliest
records of Battersea are dated 693. In some of the manu-
scripts the name is spelt Baetrice, and many of these
documents were in the archives of Westminster Abbey;
in other records of various dates the name is spelt as
Batrichesia, Battlesey, Patricheseya, Patricesie, and
Batricheseye, down to the sixteenth century, when we find
the spelling evolved to Battersey, and in the seventeenth
century it was first spelt Battersea. The Domesday Book,
which was compiled in 1086, gives the name as Patricesey,
which was said to mean St. Peter's Isle.
There are in existence several charters relating to
Battersea, one being William the Conqueror's original
grant, another emanating from Henry I., and one from
King Stephen. In some of these early documents the
name is spelt Battlese, but these records do not show how
the name originated, tradition says that the name was
derived from the battles which were fought in the bed of
the river when the tide was low and the river fordable.
Old historians say that after the Conqueror had failed in
his attempt to enter London, he encamped at Battersea
2 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Reach. At this time the greater part of Battersea was
forest land, and was valued for purpose of assessment at
nineteen hides ; in 1080 William held right for hunting in
the woods near Battersea; and in 1225 the manor of
Battersea was assigned for the maintenance of the
monks at Westminster. The abbey was closed in 1540.
The Westminster records shew that when Cedwalla,
King of the West Saxons, won Surrey in battle, he gave
Battersea to Erconwald, a bishop, by whom it was trans-
ferred to the abbey of Barking.
Domesday Book also records that Battersea was held
by Karl Harold and afterwards by William the Conqueror,
who claimed the crown regalia which had been placed in
the keeping of the abbots of the convent of Westminster by
King Edward. King William then gave the manor of
Battersea to the abbots of Westminster, and it remained
under their rule four hundred and sixty years until the
reign of Henry VIII., when the manor became crown
The Stanley family owned a large part of Battersea up
to the time of Edward IV., when the property was alienated
by John Stanley, and one part became the property of
Anne, Duchess of Buckingham, the king's aunt ; the other
part, nearly four hundred acres of land, was purchased by
Lawrence Booth, who annexed it to the see of York.
In 1610 the income from the manor was applied to the
maintenance of Henry, Prince of Wales, until 1627, when
Charles I. granted the reversion in fee, of the manor of
Battersea to Oliver St. John, Viscount Granderson, who
died in 1630. After his death it came to William Villiers,
who was killed at Bristol in 1644. Sir John St. John,
nephew of the first Lord Granderson, then inherited the
manor — he was connected by marriage with Anne Boleyn's
family — and he was succeeded by Walter St. John, his
nephew, and on his death it went to his son, Henry, Vis-
count St. John, and from him it descended to his grandson,
Henry, Viscount Bolingbroke, and then to Frederick,
THE ANTIQUITY OF BATTRRSEA. 3
nephew of the first Lord Bolingbroke. In 17 16 Henry
St. John become Baron St. John of Battersea ; he was the
father of Lord Bolingbroke. In 1763 the estate was sold
to Earl Spencer, the amount paid being ^30,000. Lord
Spencer retained his freehold until 1835.
In 1684 Henry St. John pleaded guilty to murdering
Sir William Estcourt in a quarrel at a supper party, when
swords were drawn. He was reprieved by Charles II. upon
the payment of ,£16,000. Bishop Burnet, in his history of
the Court, says that King Charles put half the money in
his own pocket and gave the remainder to two ladies who
were then in his favour.
Oliver St. John was the first of the family to reside in
Battersea. The last of the St. John family to be buried in
Battetsea was a daughter of Lord Bolingbroke.
Sir Richard Phillips, writing in 1810 on historical
events, says there was a crossing-way over the Thames
near Battersea, where Caesar pursued the retreating Britons.
" This causeway," he said, " may yet be traced from the
south bank of the river at low water, so that this was prob-
ably a ford where the British wing retreated before the
Romans, and across which they were doubtless followed
Maitland, the historian, also says that Caesar crossed
the Thames in pursuit of the Britons between Chelsea and
Battersea, where an old ford existed, this ford was broad
enough to allow ten men to walk abreast ; some warlike
implements have been found near where this ford existed,
these were of the Roman period, a Celtic shield was also
found on the Battersea side ot the river, which is now in
the British Museum. Many finds of old implements and
other relics of the past ages have been found in the river
bed, and in and about Battersea ; weapons of iron and
bronze, human skulls, lead coffins, and stone implements.
Some of these were found during the making of the park
and building the new bridge. Two embossed shields and
an ancient cauldron were dug up from the bed of the river
4 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
some few years ago, these belong to the bronze age and are
now in the British Museum, there is in the same museum a
flint sickle which was found in the Thames near Battersea.
Utensils of the Roman period, mediaeval pottery, mammoth
teeth of extinct animals, bronze spears, and flint axes of
early man have been found in the river banks between
Chelsea and Battersea.
There are in the British Museum several small round
pieces of tin which were found in the Thames at Battersea.
They are remarkable for having impressed upon them the
Christian monogram the chirho which is the earliest
mark of Christian faith. Many of these tin discs were
found in the Roman catacombs, and date back to the
In the Hilton- Price collection at the London Museum
can be seen a good specimen of a tenth century sword.
Some years ago a part of this sword was found in the river
bed at Battersea, the part found consisted of the hilt and
about three-quarters of the blade, on the blade there was
an inscription, which was unfinished on account of the mis-
sing piece broken off. Any hope of finding this was never
thought of, yet, when the Tower Bridge was being built
this very fragment was found deep down in the bed of the
river ; the fit of the two pieces was exact and the inscrip-
tion read straight on, thus completing the wording. This
sounds incredible, but such is the fact of the finding of the
tenth century sword now in the London Museum.
When the West London Railway was constructed some
fine specimens of horns belonging to the red deer were dug
up in the river bed near Battersea ; these relics of the past
belonged to a time when the wolf, the deer, and the wild
boar, roamed undisturbed about the woods which lined the
Battersea is in the hundred of Brixton, and it is
bounded by Lambeth on the east, by Clapham, Streatham
and Camberwell on the south, by Wandsworth on the west
and by the Thames on the north.
IN ancient times the river Thames covered the low-
lying land around Battersea to a considerable extent,
and in some parts when the tide was at full, old
historians say that the water reached as far as Clapham,
and even down to the year 1570 the greater part of lower
Battersea was under water, the land which now forms
the Park, and extending nearly as far as Nine Elms was
a boggy marsh, as the river reached far beyond its
present limits; when the tide was high the water spread
over the land a considerable distance, and the river banks
were constantly breaking away by force of the in-rush of
water. To prevent this a wall was built of brick and stone
along the river bank, which was known as "The Marsh
Wall," after the building of this wall much of the land was
drained and reclaimed, this land was divided into plots
and known as Short Marsh, Middle Marsh, and Long
No mention is made in the Domesday Book of any
church at Battersea, yet other records show that a parish
church was endowed in 1152 by the abbot of Westminster,
and that the living was held by the bishop of Winchester
in the time of Philip and Mary. In 1776 this church was
found to be in a decayed condition, past all repair, and was
pulled down. It was a building of great antiquity and
had some claim to architectural beauty in design, the
tower was massive and embattled. The church is men-
tioned in several old records as an imposing structure,
which had some fine stained glass windows. The art of
glass staining was flourishing in England at this period.
6 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
The most magnificent stained window was in Canterbury
Cathedral, which was destroyed by a madman in the time
of Cromwell. Westminster Abbey contains some very fine
specimens, also York Minster.
One of the windows in Battersea Church was said to
have been done by Jarvis McAllister, who was a highly
gifted artist, but his colours were not entirely fadeless.
An artist named Pearson discovered the process by which
the colours in glass staining were rendered permanent,
much of his beautiful work in churches and other public
buildings is scattered throughout Great Britain. In the
east window of St. Mary's church are three portraits, one
to the memory of Margaret Beauchamp, who was the wife
of Sir Oliver St. John, her second husband being the Duke
of Somerset ; she was the grandmother of Henry VII.
The second portrait is of Henry VII., and the third is the
portrait of Queen Elizabeth, who was the granddaughter
of Thomas Boleyn, the father of Anne Boleyn. The parish
register dates from 1559, but was kept in a most irregular
manner in the old days, many of the entries must have
been made by a very ignorant person, and in some years
no entries seem to have been made at all. Many of the
records are quaint and curious reading.
The present church, which was built upon the site
of the old one, is chiefly known for its copper spire, which
was much praised by Sir E. Poynter, R.A. The east
window contains the fine stained glass removed from
the old church. It is to be regretted that out of
sixteen plates and brasses removed from the old church,
only seven are in the present building, the rest being lost.
Most of the old coffin plates, which were stolen, were
worked in silver, and some of the oldest monuments were
destroyed or allowed to fall into decay. The earliest
monument in the old church was an elaborate brass to
the memory of John Rennold, dated 1443. Two members
of Queen Elizabeth's household, Henry Huss and Hugh
Morgan, were buried in the old church. There was also a
EARLY BATTERSEA. 7
stately monument to Queen Elizabeth, but the finest monu-
ment preserved from the old church was that belonging to
the Bolingbroke family, which is built of grey and white
marble; this was designed by that famous artist Roubilliac,
it has medallion portraits and an inscription written by
L,ord Bolingbroke. There is a memorial stone to Sir E.
Wynter, an old Battersea worthy, a great traveller who was
in the service of the East India Company in the reign of
Charles II. History records that when in India he was
attacked by a tiger, which he seized by the throat as it
sprang at him, and forced it into the river, where it was
drowned. An inventory taken in the reign of Edward VI.
shows that the old church had costly fittings, the hangings
consisted of damask, silk, satin and velvet. Some very
old documents relating to past vicars are still preserved,
one of them refers to Owen Ridley, who was vicar in 1575.
The church records shew that Battersea suffered severely
during the plague, the deaths were so numerous that two
large burial pits had to be dug, into which the bodies were
put, great distress prevailed in the parish, and prayers
were said daily in the church for the people's deliverance
from the scourge. The plague visited Battersea in 1603,
1625, and 1665, the last being the most severe visitation.
Quaint wooden windmills stood all along the Thames
banks in the early part of the nineteenth century, and
several of those windmills were picturesque objects about
Battersea. One of the best known was Randall's mill at
Nine Elms, this mill is shown in several old engravings.
Another noted mili was in Nine Elms Lane, which served
as a beacon for boats on the river, this mill stood near
where the "Southampton Arms" is now situated, not far
from the old steamboat pier. Steele, in one of his works,
mentions the Battersea mills ; in giving an account of a
voyage on the Thames, he tells how he met a fleet of
Battersea gardeners going to market with their produce,
and how he drew up at the Nine Elms pier near the old
windmill. In connection with these mills was a narrow
8 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
footway which had a low parapet on both sides known as
Mill-pond Bridge, it crossed a reservoir of water used for
driving the mill-wheel.
The most famous windmill in Battersea was one
which stood near the old Parish Church, this mill was
built upon an original plan, it was without visible sails,
but had on each side a number of vertical shutters. The
mill was built in 1788 and was known as the horizontal
air mill, owned by a Mr. Hodgson, maltster. It served
as a land mark for miles around Battersea. The following
description of this mill is from an old news sheet : " On the
site of the venerable family mansion of Henry St. John,
Viscount Bolingbroke, is erected a horizontal air-mill, for
grinding malt for distillation, originally intended for
grinding linseed ; it is one hundred and forty feet high,
and the average diameter of the cone is about fifty feet,
having ninety-six shutters, which, though only nine inches
broad, reach to the height of eighty feet : these, by means
of a rope, open and shut in the manner of Venetian blinds.
In the inside the main shaft of the mill is the centre of a
large circle, formed by the sails, which consist of ninety-
six double planks, placed perpendicularly, and the same
height as the shutters; through these shutters the wind
passing turns the mill with great rapidity, which is increased
or diminished by opening or shutting the apertures ; in it
are six pairs of stones. Adjacent are extensive bullock-
houses capable of holding six hundred and fifty bullocks,
to be fed with the grains from the distillery, mixed with
meal ; " the mill was not a success, and no more mills
were built upon this novel plan. Many of the old prints of
Battersea show this mill. Another novelty in windmills
was the windmill pump, which was erected on Wandsworth
Common by a gentleman named William Watson, in 1815,
this was built for the purpose of supplying what was
known as the " black sea " pond with water, the ruins
of this mill are still standing (19 13) on the railway siding
near Trinity Road.
EARLY BATTERSEA. 9
Windmills are of great antiquity, and believed to be
of Roman invention. They were first introduced into
England by the Knights of St. John, who copied the mode
of building them from what they had seen during the
Crusades. In later years we find them greatly improved
and used for many purposes, a wind saw-mill was erected
in the Strand in the year 1633, this was built by a Dutch-
man ; a great many of the early windmills were built by
A writer of some note in the eighteenth century pro-
tested against the unsightly state of some of the windmills ;
she said, " How is it that modern millers are the most
tasteless mortals in the world ? all the materials of an
enchanting place are ready to their hands, as they must,
for their trade have a lake, a river and a waterfall, which
are highly picturesque ; the mills are usually located in
pretty villages rich in overhanging woods following the
windings of their water power ; yet how seldom does one
see a mill that is not offensive to the eye ? like a drunken
man in a church, outraging the propriety of the place, I
can see no reason why a mill in the midst of rural scenery
might not be made an adjunct to the landscape, instead of
an eyesore, yet how often do we find a four-square white-
washed, unadorned, ugly mill by the banks of a pastoral
river ? "
About 1760 an agitation was commenced for a bridge
across the Thames from Battersea to Fulham ; the project
was opposed by the Chelsea and Fulham tradesmen on the
assumption that it would be the means of taking the trade
of their district to Battersea ; the projector of the scheme
won, and the first bridge across the Thames at Battersea
was built of wood in 1771, and had sixteen piers, the bridge
was seven hundred and twenty-six feet long, twenty-four
feet wide, the total cost of building was ^20,000, this
money was contributed by the land-owners and residents
of Battersea and Chelsea ; and Earl Spencer, who con-
tributed the major portion of the money, took the toll.
io HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Before the building of this bridge the only means of
crossing the river was by a ferry which had been in
existence many centuries. The building of the bridge
was quite an event in Battersea, crowds of people used to
congregate on the banks of the river to watch the building
in progress, and when it was finished the opening day was
given up to rejoicing and merry-making on both sides of
the river, the bridge being gaily decorated with bunting
and flags intermingled with festoons of flowers. Years
afterwards, when the Thames regatta was an annual insti-
tution, Battersea Bridge was filled with sightseers who
paid high prices for their seats or standing room.
At this time the water supply was by means of wells,
some of which were on the common laud, the water carts
used to get their supply of water from these wells, and
supply the cottages in the village. One of those wells still
exists in the basement of the old Vestry Hall on the
Battersea Rise, it was discovered about five years ago
during some building alterations. Another well, which
has since been filled in, was on Lavender Hill where the
Shakespeare Theatre now stands. Water was also taken
from the Falcon brook, which took its rise near Balham,
coming down through what is now Northcote Road, and
forming a large lake on the site of St. John's Road, and
was known as the " Washway," it then proceeded under
the roadway at the foot of St. John's Hill, and turning
westward, flowed down what is now Lavender Road into
the creek. In the eighteenth century an ancient bridge
spanned this creek, which passed down York Road ;
persons coming from Wandsworth had to pay toll. There
is an old deed in existence dating back to 1279, which
mentions the bridge as being on the road to Wendlesworth
At the commencement of the seventeenth century
Battersea was famous for its market gardens, they extended
from the Lavender Hill down to Battersea Park Road,
they also covered much of the land near the river. The
EARLY BATTERSEA. n
Battersea gardeners were noted for their fine growth of
vegetables, which fetched high prices in the London mar-
kets. The gardeners of Battersea were the first growers to
cultivate asparagus and introduce it in the fruit and vege-
table markets. The Battersea gardens were most probably-
improved by the Huguenots who settled in Wandsworth
in 1639. Fuller, writing in 1660 on the gardens of Surrey,
says, " Gardening was first introduced into England about
1590, before this time we obtained our fruit, etc., mainly
from France and Holland. The gardeners of Battersea
paid 7s. 6d. per acre for tithes to the vicar. In 1800 nearly
one hundred and fifty acres were under cultivation."
Many of the boatmen who plied on the river had their
homes in Battersea, and among them were men who
gathered the flotsam and jetsam of the river, some ot
which brought rewards from the coroner, for the old
wooden bridge was responsible for detaining many a
dead body, which had floated with the tide until caught
in the piles of the bridge and captured by some prowl-
ing boatman. The police galleys had to keep a sharp look
out when there were heavy laden barges moored, for many
suspicious looking boats were about, ready to snap up un-
Some of the Thames watermen also lived at Battersea,
the Red House being the starting point for the river car-
nivals and sports. The watermen can trace their occupa-
tion back to a remote period, when the river was the great
highway of commerce and pleasure. In a Statute of
Henry VIII., passed in 1514, for regulating their fares, it is
recorded " That it has been a laudable custume and usage
tyme out of mind to use the river in barge or whery bote."
And the annals of the Watermen's Company give an
interesting account of a dispute as far back as 1293 con-
cerning the charge for the conveyance of passengers from
Gravesend to London. The regular fare was one half-
penny for each person, but some unscrupulous boatmen
charged passengers a penny. So the offenders were taken
12 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
by the sheriff before the justices of assize, who admonished
them, and made each waterman give a bond of 40s. for
future good behaviour.
Stow, the historian, computed that in 1600 there were
forty thousand boatmen upon the rolls of the Watermen's
Company ; this gives an idea of the river traffic at this time.
The wealthy class kept their own watermen, there were
also watermen of the Court who attended all state func-
tions. The Thames at this date was the great highway of
London, there were no bridges across the river beyond
London Bridge until 1750, when the old Westminster
Bridge was opened.
River sports were introduced into England from
Venice about 1774, and the first regatta to take place in
this country was on the Thames at Battersea Reach on the
23rd June, 1775, when thousands of spectators lined the
river bank on both sides to watch the racing between the
rival vessels. Soon after its introduction the regatta be-
came one of the most popular of river sports. A regatta
consists of a series of races between sailing vessels or row-
ing boats, the prizes contested for being mostly presenta-
tions. The races were managed by a committee of
gentlemen called stewards, who appointed two officers to
decide all questions in dispute during the races, these offi-
cials were termed " umpire" and "judge." In 1839 Henley
regatta was established, and in 1843 the Thames regatta
started from Putney Bridge ; many professional oarsmen
and scullers took part in these river sports. Another
popular pastime in these days was the musical water
party, which was often given on the banks of the river
near Battersea ; well appointed pleasure boats assisted at
those entertainments, which were of a gay and picturesque
character, many notabilities being present dressed in fancy
costumes. Marlow, the artist, depicts one of these river
party scenes in an oil painting, now valuable.
The first training college for teachers in England was
built at Battersea, this building stood near the river on
EARLY BATTERSEA. 13
part of the site of Bolingbroke House, and was known as
Battersea Training College, for the training of elementary
teachers. This college was instituted in 1840 by Sir James
In 1700 Penge was a small hamlet, part of the parish of
Battersea; it had a population of about seventy persons,
and the number of houses within the parish was onlj four-
teen. It remained part of the parish of Battersea down
to 1900, when it was transferred to the county of Kent.
At one period of its history Penge was a place of some
An old historian records that in the reign of Queen
Mary, Alexander Nowell, one of the deans of St. Paul's,
and headmaster of Westminster School, one fine summer's
day was fishing in the Thames on the banks near Battersea,
when Bishop Bonner, who hated Nowell for his support of
the "New Opinione," made an attempt to capture him, but
after a severe struggle Nowell escaped, leaving behind him
his luncheon, which consisted of bread, cheese and some
beer in a bottle, this he had placed in a hollow in the bank
until luncheon time. A long time after this incident hap-
pened he returned to Battersea, and, being curious to
know if his beer was still in the bank, he went in search of
it, and found it just as he had left it, then he goes on to
say that " when I opened the bottle the stopper flew off
like a gun, but I found the flavour of the beer much
improved, being richer than ever I have known beer to
be." Sir James Fuller was of opinion that this was the
origin of bottled beer.
During the seventeenth century many Battersea traders
issued their own money for small amounts, these coins
were made of a mixture of lead and tin, and were known
as traders' tokens.
In Battersea Square stood the old workhouse, near
"The Priory," and a little higher up the road, in Surrey
Lane, was the "Cage" for the confinement of persons
guilty of petty crimes. The " Stocks," for the punishment
14 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
of disorderly persons, were outside the parish church near
In 1 8 15 the wages paid for labour in Battersea seems
to have been below the amount paid during the period
termed " the hungry forties." A writer in a magazine of
that time says, " I made enquiries in Battersea relative to
the condition of the workers, and I was grieved to find
that the payment of daj r labourers varies from 3s. to 2s. per
day, or on an average is not more than 15s. per week ; of
women from is. to is. 6d., or about 7s. per week; and of
children from 6d. to qd., or 4s. per week ; though for the
last two classes there is only sufficient employment for half
the year. A poor man who had a wife and three children
to maintain on 14s. per week, told me that for many
months he and his family had been strangers to meat,
cheese, butter or beer, that bread, potatoes, nettles, turnips,
carrots and onions, with a little salt, constituted the whole
of their food, that during the winter months he was obliged
to rely on the parish, and in case of sickness he and his
children had no resource besides the workhouse. " I
don't think," said he, "the gentlefolk save much by run-
ning down the poor so very hard, for we are obligated to
get it on the parish, which they pay, so it's all one,
though it grieves a poor man, as one may say, to apply to
the overseers, and to have no hope but the workhouse
"I agree with this humble economist that it seems to
be as ungenerous as impolitic to throw on the poor rates a
burthen which ought to be borne by those who profit from
the labour thus inadequately remunerated. It could not,
and ought not, to be difficult to fix a minimum (not a
maximum) rate of pay, such as should be sufficient to sup-
port an average sized family. With inferior means, the
labourer must suffer the obloquy of being remunerated
from the parish rates, to which all are forced to contribute
as fully as though the employer paid the fair value of the
labour in the first instance, and assessed it on the price of
EARLY BATTERSEA. 15
his commodity. How painful the condition of the poor,
contrasted with that of the rich ; yet how closely are they
allied, and how adventitiously separated ! The latter
solace themselves in a fancied exemption from the miseries
and ignominy which attach to the former, though their
daily experience of the caprice of fortune ought to teach
them, while they have the power, that it would be wiser
to diminish the contrast by ameliorating the condition of
poverty ! How glorious the spectacle afforded by the exhi-
bition of civilized society, though that justly admired
civilization is but a result of artifices that create the dis-
tinctions of rich and poor! What a gulph between the
ancient Britons in the social equality of their woods and
caverns, and the favoured English in their luxurious cities
and magnificent palaces."
This sounds like present day socialism ! yet it was
written one hundred years ago by Sir Richard Phillips, a
sound supporter of the constitution.
FROM the seventeenth century to the early nineteenth
century very little change took place in the normal
aspect of Battersea, for not until this period had
London commenced to extend its boundaries far beyond
the City limits, and Battersea was one of the many parishes
which were dotted about on the outskirts of the big city,
being connected with it only by the old turnpike roads ;
and up to the middle of the nineteenth century Battersea
had a very rural aspect.
Falcon Lane (now Falcon Road), had hawthorne
bushes on each side of the roadway, which enclosed
meadow land, orchards, and gardens. The Falcon Inn
was a small beer-house, with a large tree in front of it,
and a water-trough for the use of horses. A few cottages
with long front gardens were dotted about the lane, and
a small farmhouse here and there in the fields. The
general aspect was very rural ; and what is now St. John's
Road had much the same appearance. St. John's Hill was
a country road leading to the village of Wandsworth, each
side being flanked by meadow land and cornfields. A few
houses had been built about Plough Lane (now Plough
Road) and Union Road (Usk Road), and two or three large
houses and mansions stood off the main road. The most
famous house on the hill was " The Manor House," which
stood near the Alms Houses, not tar from where the
Infirmary now stands. The grounds were very extensive,
and most beautifully kept. This house had a very inter-
esting history. It was designed by Wren and built by a
LATER BATTERSEA. 17
French refugee, Peter Paggen. It was a handsome and
imposing structure, commanding a fine view of the country
around. For some years this house was the home of the
Princess who afterwards became Queen Anne, and many
historic scenes were enacted here during her residence.
On the walls were decorative paintings and other speci-
mens of art work, by the foremost artists of the time ; but
as they were worked in panels on the walls, they were
destroyed when the house was demolished in 1892.
Peter Paggen, the builder of the Manor House, was a
Huguenot, who fled to England, with so many of his
countrymen, on the Decree of Nantes. He died about
17 10, and lies buried with his confreres in Mount Nod
burial-ground, East Hill, Wandsworth.
At this time Woolf's pencil works in the York Road,
was a farm kept by a Mr. Turk, and known as Turk's
Farm. Part of the original farmhouse is still standing
(19 13). Near this farm the Falcon brook ran, an open
waterway in which boats were rowed as far as the creek
bridge in York Road. Near to Plough Lane stood the
Creek flour mills, which were owned by a Mr. Denny.
Most of the land about this part of Battersea belonged to
the Bishopric of York.
Off York Road, and what is now Battersea Park Road,
were orchards, market gardens, and meadow fields, which
flanked each side of the road. The east end of York
Road was known as Pickpocket Lane, and the " Prince's
Head " was only a country inn. At that time (1840)
Battersea was much in evidence as a residential suburb,
some of the best families having their mansions in Batter-
sea. On the site of Messrs. Arding & Hobbs, Ltd., stood
the home of Tom Taylor, the dramatic author, and on
the opposite corner where Messrs. Hastings, Ltd., have
their premises, the old house known as "The Chestnuts,"
was occupied by Bogle Smith, Esq., banker, and trustee of
Sir Walter St. John's Schools ; it was afterwards the resi-
dence of Mrs. Sterling, an actress of note in her time.
18 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
In Falcon Lane, where David Thomas's shops are,
was Fowne's glove factory, which extended nearly as far
as the corner of York Road. Where the dispensary now
stands at the corner of High Street, there was a pound
for impounding stray cattle, and in the centre of the road
was a pond of stagnant water. From the corner of High
Street down to the railway station, were the grounds and
gardens belonging to the old "Manor House," the resi-
dence of Sir Charles and Lady Nugent, which stood on the
site of the station. A short distance from the " Manor
House" stood a fine old mansion known as " The Lapa-
dary," occupied by Mr. Stirling, then coroner for London,
he was also famed as a breeder of race horses. The next
house of note was " The Priory," in Battersea Square,
which was the home of Captain Clayton, R.N., a great
friend of Sir Charles Napier, who was a frequent visitor to
" The Priory."
Several imposing mansions stood in Battersea Square,
one of these was occupied by Miss Ridley, who kept a staff
of liveried servants, another was the residence of Dr.
Conner, a well-known surgeon in his day. Mr. Miller, the
famous barge builder, also lived in the square.
In 1855 tne original Sir Walter St. John's Schools
were pulled down, before this it had been a boy and girl's
school, but after the girls had been transferred to the
Green Lane School, the upper part of the building
was transformed into a library under the title of " The
Battersea Library and Scientific Institute ; " the subscrip-
tion was 2s. 6d. per quarter, which entitled members to
have books, attend lectures, and be members of the old
Battersea Cricket Club.
At this time the Principal of St. John's Training
College was Mr. Jackson, who afterwards became the first
Bishop of New Zealand. Sir Samuel Clark, the great
linguist, was another noted principal of the College.
The Southland Training College was a very fine man-
sion, known as " The Retreat," which was built by order of
LATER BATTERSEA. 19
the Duchess of Angouleme, as a refuge for the people oi
her country during the French Revolution. Its name was
changed by Sir George Pollock, who resided there in the
What is now Lombard Road was then a rural lane full
of fine houses, and was known as Industrial Grove, Mr.
Spiller lived here, he built " The Rainbow," which was the
first steamer to carry passengers on the Thames, his house
stood where Wiffin's factory now stands. Miss McKeller
also lived in this road, she was a wealthy lady who
bequeathed half a million of money to charities. "Walnut
Tree Lodge " was another mansion in the road, it was the
home of West, the artist, and close by stood another well-
known house, " The Cane," which was the residence of Mr.
Long, of the Bank of England, who took an active part in
obtaining the grant of land for Battersea Park.
Surrey Lane was a cool retreat in the summer, over-
arching trees formed a green canopy of shelter from the
sun's heat, wide stretching verdure reached as far as the
eye could travel, near by stood the old riverside house
where Lord Mornington composed "Here in cool Grot,"
and not far away stood " Era House." An ancient man-
sion stood in Surrey Lane which was said by some old
chroniclers to have been the residence of Queen Elizabeth,
but not much is known about its history. It was demol-
ished in i860. Battersea Square was the village proper,
cut off from the world by field and waste land. Bridge
Road West was pretty with its numerous trees and neat
villas, it was then quite in the suburbs. Church Street
was the abode of the poor. Ford's Folly made no pretence
of respectability, Bridge Road was only half built, the first
police station was built there in 1859. Ethelburga Street
was then known as Marsh Lane and had only a few houses
in it. Latchmere Road was called The Piggery, while
Sheepcote Lane was Sheepgut Lane. This part of Batter-
sea was nearly all market gardens. One gardener had
forty acres of asparagus under cultivation, and at one time
20 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
there were three hundred acres of market gardens within
a mile of the parish church. There was no railway com-
munications, the nearest stations being Vauxhall and
The only churches in Battersea prior to Christ Church
were St. Mary's and St. George's, near the Fields. The
vicar at this time was the Rev. Eden, afterwards bishop of
Sodor-and-Man. On Sunday mornings the road was lined
with carriages waiting to take their owners home after the
service. The organist was Dr. Wagstaff, the composer, he
was succeeded by Mr. John Nicholson, who was blind. He
used to walk, always unattended, to the South London
Blind School to teach the blind.
Turner, the artist, when he lived at Chelsea, was a
great admirer of the scenery around Battersea and the
river. Thornbury says that on the day he died he re-
quested his landlady to wheel his chair to the window that
he might see the river sunset he loved so well, and the
sails of the boats glinting with the passing sunset below
Carlyle, the Chelsea sage, was a frequent visitor to
Battersea in the fifties, he used to ride an old nag, and
envelop his shoulders in a cloak of antique fashion ; with
bent head and stooping form, as if in deep thought, he
used to enjoy the fresh Surrey air, and he could be seen on
Lavender Hill, or on his way round the Common, several
times a week when the weather was fine.
About 1840 saw the close of the old coach service,
which had been commenced early in the nineteenth cen-
tury, when two-horsed coaches took passengers to and
from London daily, these coaches went from "The Raven,"
in the High Street, and in 1826 there was an increased
service of omnibusses from other parts of Battersea. The
first railway into Battersea was the Southampton line,
which was opened in 1838, the station was at Nine Elms.
The Battersea station in Falcon Lane was not built until
1845, and became Clapham Junction station on the opening
LATER BATTERSEA. 21
of the Richmond line in 1846. The line to Waterloo was
opened in 1848.
The following description of a railway journey from
Battersea to Wimbledon appeared in 1846: " Leaving the
Nine Elms station you have an excellent view of Battersea
Fields to the right, and of Battersea Rise, Clapham Com-
mon, and Wandsworth Rise to the left, but the first glimpse
of unequivocal scenery you lay your eye on is Garrett Mill,
near Wandsworth, for as you whisk past, you cannot avoid
remarking what a sweet little spot it is ! the mill half hid-
den among trees, the mill pond tastefully planted, with
embowering walks meandering through the emerald turf;
a little verdant isle in the midst, with its straw roofed
hermitage, convince you that taste has evidently formed
and preserved that little spot. The river Wandle is classic
too, it is the " blue transparent Vandalir," as the poet
called it, the favourite haunt of Izaak Walton, and is well
known for its peculiar variety of trout, which have marbled
vSpots like a tortoise."
A project was brought forward in 1879 for a new bridge
across the Thames, to replace the old timber one which
had become dangerous to traffic, and a Bill was brought in
Parliament, and after some opposition as to the position
the bridge should occupy, the foundation of the present
one was laid in 1885.
Battersea has been much disparaged in the past; in the
early part of the nineteenth century " Go to Battersea " was
a by-word much used by Londoners who wished to show
contempt for their fellows, as at a later date "Go to
Putney," and " Go to Bath," were used in the same term.
Battersea, like many other boroughs and towns, has
it's dark side, but it is not darker than the seamy side of
Westminster and other places where wealth abounds. Still,
Battersea had some black spots in the early fifties, one
writer about that time described it as "the sink-hole of
Surrey," strong language, yet not without some reason for
it. There were gambling, drinking, and other iniquities of
22 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
the Red House. Stewarts Lane had so many bad charac-
ters in it that it became known as " Hell's Corner," while
the drinking carnivals on Battersea Fields every Sunday
were beyond description. Another black spot was Kuropa
Place, which was known as the home of the forty thieves,
and designated "Little Hell," and there were other places
in Battersea about this time which were little better than
dens of infamy. We have improved much during the half-
century which has passed ; the schoolmaster has been
abroad, and other influences have been at work for the
betterment of humanity.
About sixty years ago Dr. Watson exhibited, near
Battersea, a process by which he applied the power of elec-
tricity to produce light; he also obtained colour by the
same process, which is thus described in the papers of that
date: "The great feature of the invention is, that the
materials consumed in the production of electricity are
employed for a profitable purpose independent of that ot
illumination. Thus, while a most brilliant light is pro-
duced by galvanic action, materials are introduced into the
battery by which pigments of the finest quality are
obtained, and these are so valuable that they equal, if they
do not exceed, the cost of the operation. The pigments are,
of course, first obtained in a liquid state, but they pass
through a filtering and drying process, which not only ren-
ders them available for ordinary purposes, but creates
varieties of tint when the colour is the same. If the
result of the inventor's discovery answers his expectations,
this double employment of electricity will be a valuable
addition to practical science, since we may literally have
light for nothing, the illuminator being paid with his
Some time after this Dr. Watson fixed two of his
electric lamps on a steamboat, one on each side by the
paddle-box; the vessel made a journey from Battersea to
Gravesend, leaving Battersea about 8.30 p.m., several
pressmen were on board, who thus describe the journey :
LATER BATTERSEA. 23
"The lamps intensely illuminated both banks of the river,
shedding a flood of light on the objects and edifices in the
way, including the Chelsea College, both Houses of Par-
liament, St. Paul's, and Greenwich Hospital. The effect
as seen from the several bridges is said to have been
remarkably striking and beautiful. The shipping in the
port below London Bridge was as conspicuously seen as
in the light of day, a most important fact in relation to the
subject of safety to life at sea, and the national question of
a perfect system of lighthouses on the British coast." The
steamer returned to Battersea about 3 a.m.
Klectricity has marched a long way on the road of
science since the days of Dr. Watson, who was one of that
hopeful little band of scientists who never lost faith in the
great future which lay before the power of electricity.
THE commons of Great Britain are pasture or waste
lands, which have never been appropriated, but have
always been used in common by the inhabitants of
the district in which the commons were situated. In
Battersea, Clapham and Wandsworth, extensive common
rights existed. The chief use of the commons in by-gone
times was for feeding cattle belonging to the people
of the district, who reserved some parts of the commons
for meadow land, for the purpose of making hay, by which
the cattle were fed in the winter. By this means the
people were enabled to feed their cattle and increase their
stock at little expense.
One-sixteenth part of all commons were claimed by
the lord of the manor, or, where one did not exist, it was
claimed by the Crown, the remainder belonged to the
people of the parish or district in which the land was
situated. At one time ditches formed the dividing line
between one parish and another. Until the passing of the
Metropolitan Board of Works Act, the fund for keeping
the commons was collected in the parish annually.
There was also public land known as common fields.
These were small tracts of land, many of which were under
cultivation. These common fields also belonged to the
parish for the common good.
One of these common fields was in Battersea, a large
tract of waste land situated between the Battersea Fields
and Pig Hill, leading to what is now Lavender Hill, and
was known as the I,atchmoor Common. Under the power
THE COMMONS. 25
of an old Parliamentary Act dating back to William IV.,
the overseer of any parish had the power to enclose
waste or common land lying in or near the parish
the land enclosed not to exceed fifty acres ; they had to
cultivate and improve such waste land for the use and
benefit of their parish, and also had the power to let such
enclosed land in allotments to the inhabitants of the
parish to be cultivated on their own account. Taking
advantage of this Act, the churchwardens and overseers
of Battersea enclosed about sixteen acres of Latchmoor
Common and let it out in allotments, at a low rental, to
the residents of the parish, for the cultivation of vege-
tables, etc. When Pig Hill became Latchmere Road this
land was known as the Latchmere allotments. The site
is now covered with property belonging to the Battersea
Corporation. Battersea Fields were common land, and it
required an Act of Parliament to form them into a park.
About 1796 Acts of Parliament were passed for the
purpose of enclosing land belonging to the commons and
the common fields. By this means many of the com-
mons have been much curtailed, and the land taken from
the people. During the last century large portions of
Battersea, Clapham and Wandsworth Commons have been
taken in, nearly sixty enclosures, comprising over five
hundred acres of land, have been taken from the commons
without payment, leaving only about one hundred and
ninety acres, which were saved after a severe fight, and a
cost of nearly ^3,000. Over two hundred acres of this
common land has been taken by railway companies. The
builder has also taken large slices whenever he had a
chance. In 1760 the men of Battersea formed a Land
Defence Association. The members went about breaking
down illegal fences and trespass notices, defending cases in
the Courts, and in other ways frustrating the land thief.
The public of to-day can judge how much of their land has
been stolen, when only fifty years ago a portion of com-
mon land existed at the junction of Falcon Road with
26 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Lavender Hill, showing that the commons had reached
down to this point at one time.
The greater portion of the land abutting on Trinity
Road, Windmill Road, and Earlsfield Road was common
land, and all around the common can be traced the hand
of the land-grabber.
One of the most ancient commons was Penge Com-
mon, which dated from the time of the Saxons. It is
mentioned in Domesday Book as a common having accom-
modation for the feeding of fifty hogs belonging to the
people of the parish. Part of this common was in exist-
ence down to 1827, when an Act was passed to enclose it,
but nearly four hundred acres had been taken before that
time, and since that date it has entirely disappeared, like
much more of the public land in various parts of the
Among old records dating from 17 16, the following
notes show that some rivalry existed between Battersea
and Clapham, regarding the boundary of the commons
which at an earlier date had existed, showing the portions
which belonged to each parish.
The men of Battersea, finding that their portion of the
common was being stocked with cattle belonging to the
inhabitants of Clapham, separated their land from that
which belonged to Clapham, by digging a deep ditch
and throwing up earth works. They also put gates across
the road and footpath to prevent Clapham parish common-
ing with Battersea. They contended that the people of
Clapham could not claim any right to use the Battersea
part of the common, and that the boundary was an ancient
ditch which divided the two commons, they also held that
the copy holders of the Manor of Battersea had a right to
separate the two commons.
After much wrangling and many unseemly scenes,
which took place between the rival parishes, legal opinion
was taken on the whole question, and as far as can be
gathered from the old records, the opinion was that the
THE COMMONS. 27
inhabitants of Clapham had no legal right to allow cattle
to graze upon the Battersea portion of the common, also
that the Lord of the Manor of Battersea had the power to
enclose that portion of the common, and exclude the
inhabitants of Clapham, and not allow their cattle to feed
there ; for the usage had always been that the people of
Clapham had driven their cattle upon their own common
land, and the cattle must have strayed upon the common
of Battersea where the boundaries were effaced.
When this opinion had been given, the Battersea men
annexed what they considered their portion of the com-
mon by digging a ditch from Wix's lane to some distance
beyond the Mount pond. This was no sooner done than
the men of Clapham commenced filling the ditch in again,
more disturbances took place, and the common was the
scene of many free fights and other disorderly scenes,
until the Lord of the Manor of Battersea (Viscount St.
John) brought an action for trespass against Clapham,
the case was tried at Kingston in 1718, when the plantift
A certain portion of this common land, as shown in
old deeds, has always been held on lease to Earl Spencer;
how this came about is not very clear.
The land-grabber has ever been an active individual
around Battersea as in other parts of Great Britain, hence
we find that only a comparatively small area of our com-
mons now remain.
WHEN Battersea was a remote and isolated village
at the commencement of the eighteenth century,
Battersea Fields were a large stretch of marsh}'',
common land fronting the river. Rocque's map of London,
published in 1745, shows the extent of this land to cover a
very much wider area than it did in 1853, when it was con-
verted into a park. At this date the Fields were a despised
oasis, flanked with a few ramshackle huts, inhabited by a
class of people who made day hideous and night dan-
gerous, for it was not safe for decent people to pass " the
dismal swamp " after dark, as highwaymen and footpads
infested the roads, and many an incident that is best hid
in the shadows of the past occurred on the lonely road
between Battersea Fields and Nine Elms.
At a later date a kind of carnival of folly was held
every Sunday in the vicinity of the Fields. From all parts
of London came the residuum of its population, bent upon
pleasure of the most objectionable kind, and sport of the
lowest order: dog fighting, badger baiting, rabbit coursing,
etc., and the general conduct of the persons who frequented
these meetings was beyond description ; it made right
thinking people shudder with horror, for gambling and
drinking to excess held the sway. Few of the Battersea
people attended these Sunday fairs, the crowds were
mostly composed of the scum of London.
A curious sight on Sunday mornings was the number
of small carts, drawn by dogs, coming from all parts of
London to the sports in Battersea Fields, some of them
BATTERSEA FIELDS. 29
having come a distance of twenty miles. These dogs were
very strong and large, something like a mastiff, but of a
cross breed. The owners used to give them bread soaked
in beer when on a journey, to keep them going. During
the week the dogs were employed to take the produce of
the market gardens to the various markets, and were used
for doing all sorts of light work, but some of the owners of
dog-carts used the animals so cruelly that an Act was
passed about the middle of the nineteenth century making
it illegal to use dogs as beasts of burden. Those carts
were the origin of the term " dog-cart."
Near Battersea Fields stood the Balloon Gardens, a
place of general entertainment, connected with which was
a ball room and a bowling green, it was much frequented
by the young bloods of that time. In the early fifties an
ox was roasted on Battersea Fields to commemorate the
success of James Searle, a celebrated walker, who was the
first man to walk one thousand miles in one thousand
Many duels were fought during the early part of the
nineteenth century on Battersea Fields, but the most
famous was the duel between Lord Winchelsea and the
Duke of Wellington in 1829. The cause of the duel arose
in the following manner : the Karl of Winchelsea was
a bitter opponent of the Catholic Emancipation Bill,
which was being discussed by the Lords, his language was
most violent and he declared that the Duke of Wellington,
who was piloting the Bill through the House, carried on
an insidious design for the infringement of our liberties
and the introduction of Popery into every department oi
the State. The Duke promptly denied this, and called
upon him to withdraw the aspersion, and upon Winchelsea
declining, the Duke challenged him, the result was
that a duel was arranged to be fought on Battersea
Fields. Lord Falmouth attended Lord Winchelsea as his
second. A large concourse of people assembled to see the
"sport" ; before the duel commenced Lord Falmouth rode
3 o HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
up to the Duke and handed him a paper, which the Duke
read, after which he returned it, saying, " No, no ! that
won't do, it is not a full apology." Upon this reply Lord
Falmouth returned to where Lord Winchelsea stood, giving
him the Duke's message. As he took up his position Lord
Winchelsea, who was quite unnerved, was heard to say to
his second, "This is quite a mistake." The Duke fired
first without injury, Lord Winchelsea then elevated his
pistol and fired in the air, he did this, as he afterwards
explained, because he believed himself to be in the wrong.
Sir Henry Hardinge, the Duke's second, gave Lord Win-
chelsea a severe rebuke. "And now sir," he said, "without
making any insidious reflections, I cannot help remarking
that, whether wisely or unwisely the world will judge, you
have been the cause of bringing this man into the field
where, during the whole course of a long military career,
he never was before." Lord Falmouth here turned to his
unhappy principal and declared he always thought, and
had told him that he was completely in the wrong.
When Lord Winchelsea attempted to vindicate himself,
the Duke haughtily replied : " My Lord Falmouth, I have
nothing to do with these matters." He then touched his
hat with two fingers, saying, " Good morning, my Lord
Winchelsea ; good morning, my Lord Falmouth," and
In 1843 Mr. Thomas Cubitt suggested to the Parlia-
mentary Commissioners the laying out of the Fields as a
Royal Park, in this he was ably supported by Mr. Long,
a high official in the Bank of Kngland, and resident
in Battersea. These gentlemen made a strong protest
against the rowdy and indecent conduct which was
carried on, and advocated a plan for reclaiming the land
on the foreshore, which was to be added to the projected
park. They met with much opposition from a section of
the inhabitants of Battersea, but as other public spirited
men came to their support, the plans for the formation of
the park were agreed to, and an Act was passed through
BATTERSEA FIELDS. 31
Parliament in 1846, giving powers for making a Royal
Park by the purchase of three hundred and sixty acres of
land in the Fields, two hundred of which were allotted for
the formation of the park. Some very ancient oak trees
grew in the Fields, and can now be seen in the park, these
are almost the only specimens of old trees in the park,
nearly all the others were planted as saplings when the
park was made. The park took nearly eleven years to
complete, a large portion of the land being bog, which had
to be made up and converted into solid ground. As the
Surrey Commercial Docks were being excavated at the
same time as the park was being made, the material was
used for filling in the marsh land on the Fields.
The park was opened in 1853. ,£1,500 was paid to the
Battersea parish for " Lammas " rights over the Fields.
Captain Marryat, in his novel "Jacob Faithful," refers to
Battersea Fields as they were in his day.
A NOTABLE vicar of Battersea was Owen Ridle}', who
was minister of the parish in 1570. He was one of
those unfortunate men who live before their time,
and as a result are constantly being misunderstood. He
was not popular with his parishioners, but much of this
may be put down to the superstitions of the times in which
he lived, he was a man of much breadth of mind and
thought, and this led some of the ignorant and narrow
minded to impute all kinds of wrong motives to whatever
He was brought to trial on two occasions, once he was
charged with witchcraft, it being alleged that he had had
converse with witches, this was a very protracted trial, but
resulted in Ridley being acquitted. Like his great name-
sake he seems to have had strong faith in the triumph of
A man of some note in his day was Henry Elsynge,
who was born at Battersea in 1598, and was educated at
Christ Church, Oxford. He afterwards became a famous
traveller, visiting many foreign countries, which was a
great undertaking in those days of slow locomotion.
He was also a man of much literary ability, and had other
accomplishments. The notorious Archbishop Laud took a
great interest in his welfare, and through his influence
BA TTERSEA WOR THIES. 33
Elsynge obtained an appointment as clerk of the House of
Commons, a post of great importance at that time. While
he remained in the House he had the confidence of all
parties, as he discharged his duties with integrity and
ability, for which he received commendation from many
ministers of the crown. He held this position for some
years, and only resigned his post when a junto of the
House attempted to seize the reigns of government, for he
considered it his duty to resign his position, rather than to
be concerned in such proceedings, which he was of opinion
would be subversive to the Constitution.
After his retirement from the House of Commons he
lived at Huntslow, where he occupied his time in literary
work. He wrote many books, but his best known works
were, "The ancient method and manner of holding Parlia-
ments in England," which is of an historical nature, and
another book, a small volume dealing with proceedings in
the Parliaments of his day. Both these works were well
received in the book world and had a large sale. Elsynge
died in 1654.
Dr. Thomas Temple.
This old Battersea worthy was vicar in 1634. Dr.
Thomas Temple was the brother of Sir John Temple, the
Irish Master of the Rolls. He was incumbent of the
Parish of Battersea during the tempestuous times of the
Civil War; Cromwell had a high opinion of him, and
appointed him to assist the Committee which he had
formed for the purpose of displacing ignorant and in-
efficient schoolmasters and ministers. He did his work
without bias or prejudice, and so pleased Cromwell that
he gave him other appointments. He often preached
before the Iyong Parliament, and many of those sermons
34 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Henry St. John.
Lord Viscount Boungbroke.
Battersea cannot boast of being the home of many men
who have impressed their name upon the pages of history,
but one name stands out clear and distinct — Lord Boling-
broke — who was one of Battersea's greatest citizens. He
was born at Bolingbroke House, the seat of his grand-
father, Sir Henry St. John, in the year 1678. The St. John
family took the title of Bolingbroke from the name of a
town of great antiquity in Lincolnshire.
The St. John family was distinguished for its attach-
ment to popular rights, and several of the line died in the
cause of England's liberties. History says very little about
the early life of Bolingbroke, the first we hear of him is
that he was placed under the tuition of Daniel Burgess,
who was a celebrated divine. He afterwards went to Eton,
where he became acquainted with Sir Robert Walpole, who
afterwards was his bitter enemy and remained so to the
end of his life. From Eton he went to Christ Church,
Oxford, where he threw off all the puritan teaching in
which he had been trained. When his college days were
finished, he led a gay and profligate life, remarkable even
for the age in which he lived ; his father, in order to
reclaim him, persuaded him to marry the daughter of Sir
Henry Winchescomb, a lady of high character. For some
time after his marriage his mode of living was much
improved, but he was soon back again into his old habits,
his wife charged him with the most shameless infidelity,
and in the year 1700 they parted.
At this time Bolingbroke had been returned as Mem-
ber of Parliament for Wootten Basset, and, through the
influence of the Duke of Marlborough, joined the Tory
party in 1704, much to the distress of his family, who were
strong supporters of the Whig party. In 1705 he became
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 35
Secretary of War, which office he held until 1707, when he
lost his seat, and was out of Parliament till 1709, when he
was elected for Berkshire. Although his family were in
favour of the Whig policy he still supported the Tory
party, and was one of the chief upholders of the Treaty of
Utrecht, and a Bill by which dissenters were forbidden to
instruct their children in religion. Extremely active in
the House of Commons, he impressed on all men, by his
readiness both to speak and act, a high respect for his
talent and enterprise. Though sprung from a Whig family,
he was himself a decided Tory, and, as such, was closely
leagued with Harley in all political measures. So intimate
was the alliance between them that when, in 1707, Harley
was dismissed from office, in consequence of the discovery
of his intrigues, St. John chose to follow his fortunes, and
gave in his resignation on the day following. He was not
elected to the next Parliament, but employed the two years
of his retirement in hard study, and he subsequently
declared this to have been the most serviceable part of
When the Protestant succession was firmly established,
Addison was appointed to the foreign secretaryship, which
had been held by Bolingbroke, who had to deliver up all
papers belonging to his office. Soon after giving up this
office he had to flee from the country, to prevent himself
being charged with high treason. His old schoolfellow,
Walpole, moved in the House of Commons that a Bill of
Attainder be brought against him, which was agreed to.
Bolingbroke had now joined the forces which raised the
rebellion of 17 15, but with no success, and it was with no
little pleasure that he received from the Earl of Stair, the
English ambassador at Paris, an intimation of the king's
favourable disposition to him, and he now turned all his
thoughts to effecting a reconciliation with his enemies, the
Whigs. We learn from Horace Walpole's letters that he
made professions of the most implicit submission and sup-
port to the Whig government ; and as an earnest of his
36 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
anxiety to serve them, published in 17 17 his celebrated
letter to Sir W. Wyndham, in which he displayed, with
great effect, the insignificance and folly of the pretender's
party. Though it is confessed that this production gave a
death-blow to the Jacobite cause, it does not appear that
it effected Bolingbroke's real object, for he was still unable
to return to England. During the early part of his exile
his first wife had died, and he married the widow of the
Marquis de Villette, and niece of the celebrated Madam
Maintenon, a woman of great beauty and talent, in whose
society, aided by the philosophical spirit which circum-
stances had forced upon him, and by the glittering gaieties
of the French capital, he passed his time as happily as
could be expected for a spirit burning with the desire
for action, and yet pent up in an inglorious idleness. In
1723 he obtained from England a pardon as to his per-
sonal safety, but which restored him neither to his title,
inheritance, or to his seat in Parliament. In consequence
of this act of favour he returned to England. Just as he
was about to embark on the packet-boat at Calais, he met
with his ancient ally Atterbury, who, after weathering the
storm which had burst on the head of Bolingbroke, was
now setting out on a banishment for new offences, at the
very time that his former coadjutor was returning. As
soon as Bolingbroke arrived in England, he used all his
arts and energy to obtain the reversal of his attainder, not
scrupling to humble himself to degradation before his
enemy Walpole, that he might accomplish his object ; and
his efforts were so far successful that in two years after his
return from banishment his family estate was restored to
him, and he was allowed to possess any other estate in the
kingdom which he might think proper to purchase. This
remission of his sentence has always been charged upon
Walpole as one of the most unwise acts of his administra-
tion ; but Coke, in his life of that statesman, shows pretty
clearly that it was a measure unwillingly brought forward
by Walpole, in obedience to the express commands of his
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 37
sovereign, whose ear Bolingbroke had contrived in some
way to gain.
For ten years Bolingbroke remained in political shade,
during which time he wrote many of his best works, he
also wrote some bitter letters to The Craftsman, attacking
his old enemy Walpole, who was then premier. Finding
that his influence and power had left him, he wrote to his
friend Wyndham as follows : — " I am a proscribed man
surrounded with difficulties, my part is over, and he who
remains upon the stage when his part is finished deserves
to be hissed off?' Before retiring from public life he wrote
his great book, " Dissertations on Parties," which has been
pronounced the best of all his political writings.
He again went to France in 1736, where he devoted
himself to study and writing his book on "The Study and
Use of History," which created a storm of abuse. About
this time he became acquainted with Voltaire, whose in-
fluence had a great deal to do with changing Bolingbroke's
views on the Christian faith. After remaining a few years
at Fontainebleau, he returned to England on the death of
his father, and took up his residence at the family seat in
Battersea, where he wrote his letters on " Patriotism," and
other works, his last work being an essay on " The State of
the Nation " which was not completed when he died. At
this time Pope, Chatham and Pitt were constant visitors to
Early in 1751 Bolingbroke had a severe illness, from
which he died on November 15th in the same year, and
was buried in the parish church of St. Mary, in a tomb
of white and grey marble designed by Roubilliac, who
designed the famous statue of Sir Isaac Newton, which
stands in Trinity College, Cambridge. This monument
bears the following inscription : " Here lies Henry St. John,
in the reign of Queen Anne, Secretary of War, Secretary
of State and Viscount Bolingbroke ; in the days of King
George I., and King George II. something more and better.
His attachment to Queen Anne exposed him to a long and
3 8 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
severe persecution ; he bore it with firmness of mind. He
passed the latter part of his life at home, the enemy of no
national party, the friend of no faction ; distinguished
under the cloud of proscription, which had not been
entirely taken off, by zeal to maintain the liberty and to
restore the ancient prosperity of Great Britain." To the
end he maintained his infidelity, his last orders were
that no clergymen should be admitted to his chamber.
Among the unpublished productions of his pen was found
manuscripts of one of his best essays on " Human
A writer in the last century thus sums up the character
of Bolingbroke :
" Bolingbroke's abilities were exactly of that stamp
which astonish and fascinate those who come into personal
contact with their possessor, — more brilliant than solid, —
more showy than substantial. His mind was not a pro-
found one ; but what it wanted in this respect was atoned
for by its readiness and acuteness. He seemed to grasp
everything by intuition, and no sooner had he made him-
self master of a proposition or an argument, than his
astonishing memory enabled him to bring forth vast stores
of information and illustration at a moment's warning.
Endowed with a brilliant imagination, — a prodigious flow
of words, — a style which fascinates the hearer by the
incomparable beauty of the language and the bounding
elasticity of the sentences, — and an extraordinary power
of presenting his conceptions in the clearest possible light,
his contemporaries looked upon him as one of those rare
beings who seemed to be endowed with a nature superior
to that of common mortality, and who stoop down to the
world only to evince their mastery of all its lore, and their
superiority to its inhabitants. But, dazzled as they were
by the vast surface of the stream, they forgot to enquire
into its depth. We, in modern times, who know nothing
of the artificial splendour with which a " form excelling
human," — a manner that seemed given to sway mankind,
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 39
— and a most dazzling style of conversation, invested the
name of Boliugbroke, are perhaps inclined, by the exag-
geration of the praise once lavished on him, to do him
but scanty justice. Nevertheless, it must strike the reader
of his works, that he nowhere exhibits a power of carrying
on a continuous train of thought ; that he never fairly
grapples with any subject, but contents himself with point-
ing out its weaknesses and illustrating its minor features ;
that no lofty thought, or original reflection escapes from
him : that he is an acute observer but a shallow thinker, —
a clever rhetorician, but an illogical reasoner. His politi-
cal writings are indeed occasionally distinguished by a
vigorous and well-conducted style of argumentation ; but
we know no more tame and impotent specimens of deduc-
tion than his " Philosophical Essays." The boasted First
Philosophy is founded on a congeries of confuted fallacies
and shallow sophistries, on which it would be impossible
to build any edifice more substantial than a limbo oi
The unabashed assurance with which he pronounces
his dictum on the merits of his predecessors and contemp-
oraries, — the tacit assumption which he makes of his own
superiority, — the various character and prodigious extent
of his erudition, superficial as it unquestionably was, — the
variety and happiness of his illustrations, — the brilliancy
of his metaphors, — and above all the inimitable graces of
his style, combining with the form of an essay the spirit
fire of an oration, have imposed upon the vulgar ; aud
but those who can look beneath the surface will discover,
without much difficulty, that the inside of the cup and
the platter is scarcely answerable to the splendour of
the external show.
Nothing can be more absurd than the attempt which
has been made to represent Bolingbroke as a man more
sinned against than sinning, and animated at heart by a
sincere desire to serve his country, though occasionally the
ardour of his passions drove him into perilous errors, li
40 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
there be one feature of his character which stands out more
prominently than another, it is an utter and heartless want
of principle. From the commencement of his career down
to the day of his death, personal ambition, or the spleen of
the moment, was the mainspring of his actions. Signal-
izing his entrance upon public life by a desertion of the
principles in which he had been educated, — voluntarily
becoming the most active persecutor of his earliest friends
and connections, — professing to forward his own ambitious
views, devoted attachment to a religion whose ministers he
insulted, and whose altars he despised, — intriguing with a
favourite, and corresponding with an exiled tyrant to sup-
plant his colleague, — solemnly protesting his adherence
to the Hanoverian succession, at the very time he was
filling his projected cabinet with zealous Jacobites, — cring-
ing to the minister by whom he had been impeached and
exiled, — assuring that minister of his friendship and sup-
port until he had obtained all the favours that could be
granted, and then, with shameless ingratitude, organizing
against him the most deadly opposition, — inveighing
against parties, and himself the ringleader of the bitterest
of factions, lauding the prerogative to flatter a sovereign,
and declaiming for a liberty bordering upon licentiousness,
to embarrass a ministry, — are traits in the character of this
" ingrate and cankered Bolingbroke," which it would be
cant and not candour, weakness and not wisdom, to forget
or to forgive. Nothing could be more ludicrously incon-
sistent than his professions of adherence to a family which
had been driven from the throne for its attacks on popular
rights, contrasted with the fiery vehemence of his tirades
against the Whigs for attempting to enslave the nation.
We defy any one to point out writings more deeply imbued
with Whig principles, or more opposed to the political
principles of Mr. St. John, than the letters in The Crafts-
man, those on the " History of England," and the " Dis-
sertation on Parties," by My L,ord Bolingbroke. Yet, in
spite of this want of consistency, Bolingbroke never fell
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 41
into the contempt which overtook his colleague and rival
Harley, and which seldom fails to overtake all those who
embark on the voyage of life without the ballast of
honesty. Perhaps no two men actuated in the main by
similar motives, and presenting certain general points of
resemblance, ever differed more widely than Harley and
Bolingbroke. Each was actuated chiefly by a love of
power, — each was ready to stoop to any device for the in-
crease or preservation of that power, — each acknowledged
no ties of gratitude, and no laws of honour."
Bolingbroke, however, left his mark on literature and
the history of his time. He was the companion and some-
times the friend of many of the foremost men of his day.
Lord Chesterfield said that until he had read Bolingbroke's
works he did not know the extent and power of the
English language. Pitt, the younger, always gave great
credit to the speeches and writings of Bolingbroke. Pope
also praised his writings as being of a very high order of
merit. There were about him some elements to admire,
his indomitable energy, high intellect, and invincible
spirit under difficulties.
Bolingbroke's works were published in five volumes
by Mallett in 1755. His Letters and Correspondence were
published by G. Parke in two volumes (1798), and his
" Life and Works " by Goldsmith in eight volumes (1809).
This learned bishop was vicar of Battersea in 1657, ne
was also domestic chaplain to Sir Walter St. John. He
published several pamphlets dealing with religious sub-
jects, all of which he dedicated to his patron Sir Walter
St. John. He was a firm Protestant with strong con-
victions. He once entered into a controversy with two
Roman Catholic priests before King James II., who at the
conclusion said, "I never heard so good a cause so ill
42 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
defended, or a bad one so well." Patrick was afterwards
appointed Bishop of Winchester, and later of Ely. When
he died in 1707 he left a collection of printed works,
mostly on religious subjects, devotional and controversial,
to William Lowth, father of the then Bishop of London.
Dr. Thomas Church.
This divine became notorious in his day for his con-
troversial attacks upon the Revs. John Wesley and Whit-
field, the great dissenters, and his defence of the early ages
of Christianity. Iyord Bolingbroke, at one time was his
patron, but in 1755 Doctor Church made some scathing
comments on Bolingbroke's life and works in a book which
he published anonymously, entitled, "An Analysis of the
Works of Lord Bolingbroke." This work was very severe
and created a deal of comment. He died vicar of Batter-
sea in 1756, at the age of forty-nine.
Although Battersea cannot claim Wilberforce as a
native, it can rightfully claim him as a citizen, for it was
in Battersea the best part of his life was spent, and much
of his Parliamentary work was planned in his house in
Broomwood Road, and that of Mr. Henry Thornton, on
Battersea Rise (afterwards the residence of Mr. Percy
Thornton, M.P.), where he met some of the foremost poli-
ticians of his time. In his house " Broomfield," he often
conferred with Clarkson, Burton, Macaulay, Granville
Sharp, and Ramsey ; when they were carrying on their
great work against slavery, their plans and projects were
nearly all arranged in this historic house.
In many of his letters written to friends in Yorkshire,
he refers to Battersea and the beautiful county of Surrey,
WILLIAM WILRKRFORCE, 1780.
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 43
for which he has nothing but praise ; frequent passages in
his diary also refer to Battersea.
Wilberforce was born at Hull, August 24th, 1759, and
at nine years of age was sent to live with an uncle at
Wimbledon. His first school was at Putney where, he
once said, " they taught everything, but I learnt nothing."
He remained at this school for two years, after which he
was sent to the Hull Grammar School, and at the age of
seventeen was transferred to St. John's College, Cambridge,
to complete his education. While at college he met Pitt,
with whom he formed a life-long friendship. When his
college days were over he inherited a large fortune and
entered public life ; he sought a seat in Parliament in his
native city, and was returned as member for Hull in 1780.
It was at one of his political meetings during this election
that his sister made a clever don mot. As she came upon
the platform the audience with loud cheers shouted, " Miss
Wilberforce for ever," when the cheers had subsided she
came forward and thanked them for their kind reception,
then, with a smile, said, " But to tell you the truth, I do
not wish to be Miss Wilberforce for ever."
His maiden speech in the House made a good impres-
sion, and L,ord North complimented him, but his work in
Parliament was not of much note until he took up the
slave question, and he was induced to do this by reading a
book written by the Rev. James Ramsey on the " Slave
Trade." Ramsey was the pioneer and first mover in the
agitation against the traffic in human beings ; Clarksou,
Sharpe, and others took up the work, but it was Ramsey
who bore the first brunt of the battle. Years after the
victory was won, Wilberforce paid a high tribute to his
memory, in which he said that Ramsey for years had
fought in the great cause almost alone, until he sank under
the burden of the strife, killed by the virulence of those
who upheld the slave-owners. Again in 1789, Wilberforce,
writing to a friend, says, " Poor Ramsey is dead, his
wounded spirit has bowed before the storm and the malig-
44 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
nant calumnies heaped upon him." Few historians men-
tion James Ramsey as the pioneer of slave emancipation
for he fell too early in the battle, but Wilberforce always
remembered him as the great influence which decided him
to take up the cause of the slaves.
In November, 1792, writing to a friend, Wilberforce
says, " Henry Thornton has bought L,ubbock House at
Battersea Rise, and I am to share it with him, and pay so
much per annum. Last night, with Grant and Thornton,
I went over the grounds, they are in lovely condition,
and the house is well situated, surrounded by Clapham
Wilberforce now took up his work for the suppression
of the slave-trade in the belief that God had called him to
the strife, and armed him to fight for the liberty of the
oppressed. He made every other interest subservient to
the abolition cause, working almost night and day with
Clarkson and his committee, of which Granville Sharp was
chairman. Two days before the debate in the House, he
met Fox, Pitt, and Grey at his house on Battersea Rise,
where they debated the Slave Bill. When the question
was before the House, Wilberforce spoke for three hours
with immense effect. Burke said " that the nation and the
whole of Europe were under obligation to the hon. member
for one of the finest speeches ever heard in that House,
which was not surpassed by the Grecian eloquence." But
the time for emancipation had not yet come, the public
conscience had not been awakened. Those in the slave-
trade who were amassing their gold in the unholy traffic
were not going to give it up without a severe struggle.
The voices of Buxton, Sharpe, Clarkson, Stephens, and
Macaulay were sending their clarion notes throughout the
land on behalf of the helpless black.
In the first session of the 1796 Parliament, Wilberforce
again brought up his Slave Bill, and was again defeated.
He had now given up his fortune to the cause, the large
expenditure of money which was required to carry on the
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 45
work caused a great strain upon his purse, and his heart
often sickened at seeing his energy and money sacrificed
through the apathy of luke-warm friends, and the intrigues
of interested enemies ; yet he was cheered in his work by
many true friends who recognised the great battle he was
fighting in the cause of humanity. John Wesley, during
his last illness, wrote to Wilberforce a letter of great
encouragement, "God be with you," he said, "may you
succeed in your glorious work against this scandal of
religion, of Kngland, and of human nature. Unless God
has raised you up for this work you will be worn out by
the opposition of men and devils. Go on in the name of
God is the prayer of your servant, John Wesley." This
was the last letter Wesley wrote.
Wilberforce spent nearly all of his leisure time at
Battersea Rise, where he was visited by the foremost men
engaged in the anti-slave crusade, his constant friend was
Henry Thornton, who did much to encourage him in his
work. Here he met Southey the poet, and Dr. Chalmers,
whom he found delightful company. In ] 793 he wrote his
best known work, " Practical Christianity," which has
gone through many editions.
On May 30th, 1804, Wilberforce got the first reading
of his Bill passed by one hundred and twenty four votes
to forty-nine. This was a great victory, and from that day
the issue of the question was clear, for three years later, in
1807, the first Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade
passed the House, but this was only one step towards total
abolition, which did not come until many years after.
Wilberforce had now left Battersea Rise and taken
" Broomfield," in what is now Broomwood Road. The
Rev. Hughes, an eminent Battersea divine, often visited
here. On May 15th, 1830, Wilberforce, now feeble and old,
took the chair at a great Anti-Slave Meeting held in the
old Freemason's Hall ; this was his last public meeting.
Shortly after this he left Battersea to live at Kensington
Gore. Writing to a friend at the time he says : " It is not
46 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
without great regret I give up my house at Battersea, a
place endeared to me by much happiness, both at Battersea
Rise and ' Broomfield.' The memory of the pleasant hours
I have spent there will never fade."
In July, 1833, when his life was drawing to a close,
news was brought to him that Parliament had passed
another Bill against slavery. This Bill imposed a payment
of twenty millions sterling in compensation to the slave-
owners. "Thank God," he exclaimed, "that I have lived
to see Kngland willing to make such a sacrifice for the
abolition of the traffic in human beings." A few days
after receiving this information, July 29th, he passed away
at the age of seventy-four. He had wished to be buried at
Stoke Newington, where his daughter and a sister are
buried, but the Members of both Houses of Parliament ex-
pressed a strong desire that he should lie in Westminster
Abbey, which the family agreed to. The public funeral
took place on August 5th, when all business was suspended.
The Speaker of the Commons, the L,ord Chancellor, and a
prince of the Royal House were pall-bearers. Inside the
Abbey were assembled those most renowned for talent and
greatness. Wilberforce was laid to rest in the north
transept near his life-long friends, Fox, Canning and Pitt.
The press and the platform were loud in their praise
of the life and work of this man, who had devoted his life
to the welfare of his fellows. The edition of The Age
said : " The nations are indebted to Wilberforce for a phil-
anthropy which has humanized mankind, and illustrious
deeds and words which show him as the best benefactor
of his time."
His townsmen of Hull raised a Doric column to his
memory ; this memorial is one hundred and two feet high,
surmounted with a statue of the great philanthropist and
statesman. The house where he was born in the High
Street has been bought by the Hull Corporation, and is
now open as a museum of Wilberforce relics.
Wilberforce was not one of the most brilliant men of
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 47
his time. His education, training, and wealth were the
dominating factors by which he reached his position in the
history of his time ; he concentrated his life-work to the
achievement of one object, which he attained. His char-
acter was cast in a religious mould, he had strong faith in
the existence of a supreme power, deep rooted, which
governed the whole of his life.
John Gardner, m.a.
In 1778 John Gardner was installed vicar of Battersea.
He was a man of fine artistic taste, and a constant
exhibitor at the Royal Academy, where many of his
pictures gained high commendation. In 1778 he pub-
lished a portfolio entitled, " Views on the Rhine," but some
of his best work was put into the views which he con-
tributed to Williams' " History of Monmouthshire " ;
very little of his work has come down to the present time.
He died in 1808 at the age of seventy-nine and is buried
in Battersea Parish Church.
Thomas Asti,b, f.s.a.
Thomas Astle, the antiquary, resided in Battersea at
the close of the eighteenth century, and is buried in St.
Mary's Churchyard. He was the keeper of His Majesty's
records in the Tower of London, also a member of the
Antiquarian Society, and one of the trustees of the British
Museum. He was the author of many articles on Archseo-
logia, and wrote a book on the origin of writing. He
had one of the finest collections of manuscripts then
known, which comprised several other collections ; on
his death he left them in charge of the Marquis of
48 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Another Battersea worthy, although not a native, was
Theodore Janssan, the founder of the famous enamel
works. His father was one of the Huguenots who came
to England when the French Protestants were persecuted
beyond endurance. He was wealthy and invested large
sums of money in various companies. He was one of the
directors of what was known as the " South Sea Bubble,"
by which he lost a large amount of money. In 1730 he
invested money in property at Battersea, he died at
Wimbledon in 1748 at the age of ninety, leaving a family
of three daughters and five sons. Theodore, his third son,
was in business as a bookseller at St. Paul's Churchyard,
he afterwards became an alderman of the City, and was
elected sheriff in 1749, and Lord Mayor in 1754.
At this time Lord Stanley owned some property in
Battersea, and was on friendly terms with Theodore
Janssan, who had a few years previously commenced the
enamel works at York House, in which Lord Stanley
became interested. Robert Hancock, the famous line
engraver, had been appointed in charge of the works.
Janssan succeeded his brother, Sir Henry, in 1767, and
became Sir Stephen Theodore Janssan. An article in The
Gentleman' s Magazine, published in 1768, speaks in high
terms of Sir Stephen, for whom there was much respect on
account of his many virtues, both public and private.
Janssan fell upon bad times and became bankrupt in 1756,
his furniture and other effects were advertised for sale in
The Public Advertiser, in the list of articles advertised
were the following: "A quantity of beautiful enamels,
coloured and uncoloured, of the new manufactory, York
House, Battersea, and never yet exhibited to public view."
The advertisement described the enamels in detail, con-
sisting of candlesticks, patch boxes, snuff boxes, watch
cases, toothpick cases, bottle tickets, and many others in
BATTERSEA WORTHIES. 49
a variety of patterns, round, square and oval, all fit for
the cabinets, mounted on metal in fine gilt. A sale took
place on Janssan's premises in St. Paul's Churchyard,
which did not realize the amount expected, so another
sale took place in June, 1756, when more Battersea enamels
were sold, some of which were described as consisting
of fine drawn pictures on watch cases, boxes, and oval
plaques, also black enamels, and a quantity of stove plates
and Dutch tiles. This was the last of the enamel works,
for the advertisement goes on to announce that " all the
tools and utensils belonging to the factory will be sold,
also a quantity of frames and unfinished enamels." The
factory was also offered for sale but did not find a pur-
chaser, and a few years later was finally closed. This was
the end of Janssans' connection with Battersea.
Rev. Joseph Hughes, m.a.
The name of Joseph Hughes will ever be connected
with Battersea as one of its foremost citizens ; he was one
of the founders of the Religious Tract Society and the
Foreign Bible Society, in conjunction with Wilberforce,
John, L,ord Teignmouth and Henry Thornton. He was
also one of the pioneers of education.
He came to Battersea about 1797, and was the first
pastor at the York Road Baptist Chapel ; he found the
system of educating the poorer class in a most unsatisfac-
tory condition, many of the children being allowed to grow
up in perfect ignorance of the rudiments of learning.
Being a strong advocate of secular education he set to
work to remedy this, got others interested in the work,
and raised funds sufficient to make a commencement.
Trustees were appointed to manage the funds, a large
house in the York Road was then in the market, the
trustees secured this, and after alterations, it was opened
for twenty poor boys. The house had been known as
Grove House, and the school was known by the same name.
50 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
This house soon became too small in accommodation, and
another house was taken, which met the requirements for
some years, when the trustees decided to build a school,
and what was later known as the Old Grove School in the
York Road was built, this was pulled down in 191 1 and a
new school erected on the site. When the old school was
built, open fields, orchards and gardens, extended down
beyond St. John's College, and about the school were a
few old fashioned wooden cottages with red tiled roofs,
the remnants of Battersea village. The school was for
boys only, so when it had gained a firm footing in the good
work of education, Mr. Hughes turned his attention to
making the same provision for girls, which, after many
difficulties had been overcome, he succeeded in doing,
and a school was erected in Plough Lane (now Plough
At this time Plough Lane was very rural, with hedges
and meadow land stretching as far as Wandsworth Com-
mon, with a few houses dotted here and there, and some
Almshouses for eight poor widows, which were supported
by Mrs. H. Tritton. At the top of the lane were two
mansions facing St. John's Hill, one of them stood where
the London County Council Board School is built, and
was the house of Mr. Joseph Tritton, who gave the site
for the girls' school, he was a great help to Mr. Hughes
in his education work. Tritton Street is named after him.
Part of the other mansion still remains and is now the
Battersea Grammar School. The Rev. May-Soule was
another and later worker for the education of the poor,
he is also kept in memory by the naming of a road, but
the best memorial to these past worthies is the good work
they did, and its effect upon those who came after them to
carry on the work. The Plough Lane Girls' School was
pulled down in 1905 when the Borough Council built the
Plough Road Institute on the site.
Mr. Hughes died in 1833, and is buried in Bunhill
BATTERS E A WORTHIES. 51
John Cullum was an artist of some local reputation.
He was born in Battersea in 1801 ; he was an earnest worker
for the uplifting of public morals, and the general good of
the people, and was the first person to introduce the
teetotal pledge into Battersea. But he is most interesting
as having kept a record of events regarding Battersea,
before and during his time. The following extracts are of
" The Rev. John Wesley preached in Battersea, Nov-
ember 4th, 1766, and on several other occasions. The first
Wesleyan chapel was built in 1846 in the Bridge Road
West ; in connection with this chapel was a Stranger's
Friend Society, doing good work amongst " outcasts."
The Priory, in Battersea Square, was built for religious
instruction. Prior was the ecclesiastical title formerly
given to the chief of a small monastry which was desig-
nated a ' priory,' and was under the management of various
officers. Many of these priories belonged to foreign mon-
asteries of several religious orders. During the years from
1400 to 1520 several of these priories were dissolved and
the revenues taken over by different colleges in Oxford
and Cambridge. Henry VIII. closed many of these houses
and some of the revenue went to found new bishoprics of
which Westminster was one." John Cullum died in 1852.
IN 1750 an industry was commenced in Battersea by
Stephen Theodore Janssan, the son of a French
refugee, which was destined to become famous in the
art world. The product of this industry was enamel work
upon a copper basis, in various designs and shapes, which
were used for many purposes, useful and ornamental.
These enamels have attained a universal reputation, and
are now sought after by all experts in enamel work, they
are given the first place in the museums of Europe in
their class of art work, and such is their reputation that
no collection is complete without them, as among all
old enamels they stand alone in beauty of colour, clear
decorations and exquisite workmanship. No other enamels
have been fired so perfectly, or finely, as the " Battersea."
Not even the beautiful work of the Geneva enamels,
or the dainty work of L,imoges, can compare with the
work of Robert Hancock and his assistants, done at
York House. Many and varied were those enamels
in their make and use, they chiefly consisted of oval
medallions, work boxes, needle boxes. Exquisite etui
cases, fitted with scissors, bodkin and thimble. Tiny
scent cases, with small cut bottle enclosed, coat and
sleeve buttons, door and chest handles, card trays, knife
handles, candle sticks, snuff boxes, salt cellars, patch
boxes, ink stands, portraits of celebrities, wine bottle
labels, jewel caskets, landscape views, scent bottles, writing
cases, tea caddies, glove boxes, enamel boxes decorated
with heads of women, negroes, dogs, boars, doves, gold-
BATTERSEA ENAMELS. 53
finches, bullfinches, the fruit of lemons, and peaches,
red moss roses, and full blown pinks, portrait plaques,
flower plaques, and plaques painted with all kinds of
subjects. Most of these articles were worked in colours
of purple, grassy green, rose, green, grey, turquoise or
orange, the candle sticks in white or pink dotted with
Janssan engaged French artists to paint the dainty
little love scenes, and the exquisite landscapes which orna-
mented the beautifully finished work boxes. During the
first period of the manufacture, the decoration was done
by hand, these are real works of art. A French engraver
named Revenet evolved the idea of transfer printing, then
an unknown art in England, and he produced some of the
most interesting products of the Battersea factory, such
as the well-known portrait enamels, which were transfer
printed entirely. King George II., George III., Queen
Charlotte, Frederick, Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cum-
berland, Peter the Great, Frederick, King of Prussia, the
Young Pretender, the beautiful Miss Gunnings, Pitt, and
Horace Walpole are among the notable portraits. Revenet
was noted for the refinement of his work as a copper plate
engraver, he also worked in the Chelsea pottery, where
Janssan had some interest. Revenet died in 1774.
Robert Hancock was the chief in charge of the works,
but he had some able men under him. John Hall was a
skilful painter upon china, who was in the Battersea works
till they closed, when he went to the Chelsea pottery, where
some enamel work was being done. Another clever work-
man was a man named Brooke, who worked at the Bow
pottery at a later date. The best transfer printer engaged
at York House was George Lewis, who left Battersea to go
to Worcester, where he worked in the china factory. He
died in 1790.
Parquin, in his "Artists of Ireland," mentions that
James Gwinn, a native of Kildare, came to England in
1755, and was employed near London at the Battersea
54 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
enamel works, where he made designs for box-lids. He
died in 1776.
The art of enamelling is very ancient, metals were
enamelled by the Chinese and Egyptians at a time when
our ancestors were in a very primitive state ; at a much
more recent date the art of enamelling upon copper was
practised in France, and probably was brought to England
by the Huguenots. The founder of the Battersea works
was the son of one of these refugees. Similar work was
also done in Prussia, but in a more crude form, yet the
process was much the same, the melting of glassy sub-
stances of various qualities and colours on to a metal
Geneva enamels had also been made, Limoges pro-
duced Gothic pictures and altar ware in enamels, but
none were equal to the best work done at York House.
M. Roquet, who had painted enamels at Geneva, published
a book in 1775, entitled, "The State of the Arts in
England," and in a chapter on English porcelain he says,
" There are three or four china works in the London
suburbs, the chief being at Chelsea," he then goes on to say
that " in the village of Battersea some very fine enamels
are being made," and gives the following account of their
manufacture : " These enamels are made upon a copper
basis which is coated with a mixture of liquid glass and
tin, the transfer-printing being done from paper impres-
sions which had been taken from engraved copper plates,
the still wet ink of the impression being carefully pressed
and set off upon the enamel, then came the brush work,
the colours and the gold." Another authority gives the
following as the mode of transfer-printing : " The cut of
the engraving must be so open as to contain a sufficient
quantity of a substance, which should be the calx or lime
and metal mixed with a small quantity of liquid glass.
The impression is made on paper, the printed side of which
is afterwards applied to the part of the porcelain intended
to be printed, having first rubbed it with thick oil of tur-
BATTERSEA ENAMELS. 55
pentine; the paper is then taken off carefully, and the work
is put to the fire. When once a subject is designed and
engraved, it becomes a considerable saving to the manu-
facturer by the repetition of its applications."
Collectors regard the transfer-printed enamels as the
most valuable, as they are now very rare; some of the
plates engraved by Hancock are still in existence (1913).
The raised work upon many of the enamels consisted of
enamel itself, which was put on with a brush.
Horace Walpole was a great admirer of these enamels,
writing to his friend Richard Bentley in 1755, he says, " I
am sending a snuff box as a sample of the new manu-
facture at Battersea which is done on copper plates."
Chaffer, who was an authority on this class of art work,
gave high praise to Battersea enamels. Walpole was the
first collector of Battersea enamels, some other famous
collectors were Lady Schreiber, Octavius Morgan, Dudley
McDonald, Charles Kennedy, Mr. Franks, Mrs. Halburtou
and Charles Burradaile. The Schreiber collection is now
in the South Kensington Museum, and the Franks collec-
tion was bequeathed to the British Museum. Franks was
an authority on enamels, and was employed as keeper for
many years at the British Museum. There is also a collec-
tion in the Battersea Municipal Museum.
The largest collection of Battersea enamels was made
by Mr. Charles Storr Kennedy, which was exhibited at the
Guelp Exhibition in 1891, some of these enamels were
dated 1762 and later, which was after the works were closed
by Janssan ; there is some evidence that the work was
continued after Janssan left, by Brooks, who worked under
Janssan, and these dates go to support this. Some of the
portraits are of George III. and Queen Charlotte, and as
George III. did not commence his reign until 1760, this
enamel must have been made after that date, one of these
enamels is now in the Battersea Museum.
The enamel works were not a commercial success, and
after passing through various vicissitudes, were finally
56 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
closed about 1760. At the sale, when the works closed
down, a number of Dutch decorated tiles and stove plates
were included in the catalogue, from this some writers
assume that they were made at the enamel works, but it is
more likely that the tiles, which were delf-ware, had been
made at the L,ambeth pottery works, which were then in
existence, and sent to the Battersea enamel works for the
printing and burning of the decorations.
Battersea enamels are now very rare, the earliest dated
piece is 1753, the greater number being in the cabinets of
collectors and in public museums. The few that come into
the market fetch high prices, and their value is constantly
increasing ; this has caused many forgeries to be placed on
the market, these come mostly from France and Germany,
some of them are remarkably good imitations, but they
lack the daintiness and grace of the originals, the
colouring is crude, and the absence of "hair" cracks in
the enamel is a sure sign of the fraud, for hardly a piece
of "Battersea" now exists which is perfect, there is a
freshness about the colours of the imitation which should
warn the collector.
The value of Battersea enamels has a wide range.
The highest amount paid for a single piece was ^250, which
was given for a large box beautifully finished and of the
best period. ^15 was given for a small box with transfer-
printed picture of King George and Queen Charlotte, and
^22 for a pair of candlesticks, in perfect condition. Small
patch boxes and trinket boxes in good condition have
fetched £3 to ^5 each. Two needle cases for twenty- four
guineas was a recent price, thirty-seven guineas for three
others, and twelve and a half guineas for another (1912).
An oblong casket, painted with landscapes and figures in
colours, with richly gilt borders on a white ground, sold
for eighty-six guineas, another made sixty-eight guineas,
and a third, with a pair of smaller boxes en suite, seventy-
At the sale of the " Halburton" collection of Battersea
BATTERSEA ENAMELS. 57
and Bilston enamels, a pink enamel box seven and three
quarter inches by eight and a quarter inches, painted with
landscapes and gilt scroll work, sold for ^240, and a
similar box less in size made ^115. Two other Battersea
boxes sold for £iqo each.
About the same time as the Battersea enamels were
made, similar work was being done in France. During the
reign of Louis XVI., Petitot, the famous enameller, was
producing some of his best work, which was done on fine
gold, hence the high price these enamels command, a single
specimen having fetched ^800. Other enamel works at this
date were at Bilston, Birmingham and Liverpool. The
Bilston enamels were made by George Brett, between
1760 and 1780. The Birmingham works did ornamental
and transfer decorations in enamel. The Liverpool pot-
ters, Sadler and Green, did enamel work chiefly upon tiles,
etc., and they claimed to be the original inventors of
transfer-printing, but their transfer-printed tiles were not
produced until 1756, and the first dated piece of Battersea
enamel is 1753. Sadler claimed the invention from 1749,
the date when he first commenced to experiment in trans-
fer work. Henry Bone, R.A., who died in 1834, was a
painter of pictures on enamel, and he did some fine work
for the Bristol China Company. Hancock was the first
engraver at Battersea, some of his early work bearing his
Dr. Richard Pocock, author of "Travels through
England," visited the Battersea enamel works, and the
beautiful workmanship received his high commendation.
FAMOUS BATTERSEA HOUSES.
THIS house stood on part of the site of Price's candle
works, the massive iron entrance gates were near
the old creek, which flowed down from Clapham
Common to the river ; the pumping station stands on the
site of the entrance to York House, in front of which, in
old days, was a fine lawn with a magnificent cedar tree in
the centre, and round the lawn was a broad carriage drive.
The mansion was built in 1480, by Lawrence Booth, a
bishop of Durham and York, as a residence for himself and
his successors, when called to London on any business
connected with the church. The house and grounds were
annexed to the see of York ; they were enclosed with a
wall of great strength. When Booth died he bequeathed his
estate in Battersea to the see of York, for the maintenance
of a charity. History records that a royal barge landed its
occupants at York Creek, and we find that Queen Elizabeth
went from Greenwich to York House in the state barge ;
and that Archbishop Hulgate lived here when he was
committed to the Tower by order of Queen Mary, in 1553.
Old records go to prove that his captors rifled the house of
all its valuables, including over ^"300 in coin, sixteen
thousand ounces of plate, a mitre of pure gold, some very
fine diamonds, sapphires, and other precious stones, also
pearls and rings of great value were taken. These valu-
ables were never returned, and Hulgate ultimately lost his
archbishopric, in addition to his valuables.
FAMOUS BATTERSEA HOUSES. 59
There is a letter among the State papers, dated August
22nd, 1580, from Archbishop Sandys to John Wicklifie,
keeper of the York House at Battersea, in which he directs
Wicklifie to deliver up the house to the Lords of the
Council, so that it might be turned into a prison for
obstinate Papists. During the Commonwealth, York
House was sold to Sir Allan Apsley for ^1,800, but it was
retained by the See after the Restoration.
It was in this house that Henry VIII. met Anne
Boleyn, and here the scene took place described in Shake-
speare's play " Henry VIII.," which was written from
information given by Queen Elizabeth, within fitty years
of the event. Anne Boleyn was related to the St. John's,
and her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, resided near York
House. Anne was one of the guests at a reception
when the king was present. Some writers contend that
this interview between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. took
place at York House, Whitehall, but there is much
tangible evidence to show that it took place at York
In 1814, Sir Richard Phillips visited York House and
thus describes his visit: "I visited York House at Battersea
and was much interested, as it has many historical associa-
tions. It is now used as a distillery, and is in the charge
of a Mr. Benwell, who takes a great deal of interest in the
house, and he fully believes that this is the house referred
to by Shakespeare. He informed me that a few years since
he had pulled down a superb room, called the ball-room, the
panels of which were curiously painted, and the divisions
silvered. He says, too, that the room had a dome and a
richly ornamented ceiling, and that he once saw an ancient
print, representing the first interview of Henry VIII. with
Anne Boleyn, in which the room was portrayed exactly
like the one that, in modernizing his house, he had found
it necessary to destroy — though, as relics, he had pre-
served several of the painted panels. The house is now in
a modern style, and of good size, yet he told me, in digging
60 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
in the adjoining grounds, they constantly met with consid-
erable foundations, thus showing that the house had been
much larger at one time."
There was also a York House of some note at Twick-
enham, which was confounded with the York House at
Battersea, as it was much frequented by high personages
and royalty. Queen Anne was born there on February 6th,
1665. Lord Clarendon resided there and entertained on a
large scale ; it was afterwards the home of Karl Lonsdale
down to 1844.
Sir Edward Winter, the African traveller, lived and
died at York House. Theodore Janssan, a French refugee,
purchased York House estate about 1745, and lived there
some years; in 1750 his son Stephen Theodore Janssan
commenced the manufacture of the world-famed Battersea
enamels, which were made at this house until the works
closed in 1762. For many years it remained a private
residence. Mrs. Fitzherbert was once in residence, and
George IV., when Prince of Wales, was a visitor, and
many other notabilities of that time visited the house.
Before its demolition it was a home for the mentally
This mansion was the manor house of Battersea, and
stood on the river front in its own grounds. Some idea of
its size can be gained from the fact that it contained forty
rooms on one floor ; and here Lord Bolingbroke, in the
heyday of his power, entertained some of the most fore-
most men of his day. Alexander Pope was a constant
visitor, and had a room wherein he wrote much of his
poetry, including part of his "Kssay on Man." This room
was known as the Cedar Room, being lined with cedar
In the summer of 1729 Pope paid one of his visits to
Bolingbroke House, when, in conversation, Lord Boling-
FAMOUS BATTERSEA HOUSES. 61
broke suggested that Pope should write a poem on the
hopes, fears, aspirations, and moods of man. Pope was
pleased with the suggestion, and during his stay wrote the
greater part of his " Essay on Man," an ethical poem,
which he dedicated to Bolingbroke, this is shewn in the
opening lines of the poem : —
" Awake, my St. John ! leave all meaner things
To low ambition, and the pride of kings."
Lord Chesterfield met here some of his best friends, as
also did Dean Swift and Chatham. The house stood near
the old church, the grounds and out-houses reaching down
to what is now Church Street. This fine mansion was
pulled down in 1793, and, when the estate was alienated,
the whole building was razed with the exception of a few
rooms which now form part of Mayhew's flour mills in
Church Street. This wreck of the great house is interest-
ing, for it contains the historic cedar room already referred
to, and the visitor will see on some of the walls, traces of
the paintings in panel, by Verrio and Tagorre.
A traveller early in the nineteenth century thus
describes a visit to Bolingbroke House : —
" On inquiring for an ancient inhabitant of Battersea,
I was introduced to a Mrs. Gilliard, a very pleasant and
intelligent lady, who told me she well remembered Lord
Bolingbroke. He used to ride out a good deal in his
chariot, and had a black patch on his cheek, with a large
wart over his eyebrows. She was then but a girl, and she
was taught to look upon him with veneration, as a great
man. He spent little in Battersea and gave nothing away,
and he was not much liked among the people of the village.
I then went to visit the site of Bolingbroke House, and
found Mr. Hodgson, a maltster and distiller, and the
proprietor of the elevated horizontal air mill, which serves
as a landmark for many miles round. But, in his employ-
ments, there is nothing novel or uncommon to describe,
and his mill, its elevated shaft, its vanes, and its weather
or wind boards, curious as they would have been on any
62 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
other site, lost all their interest on this ! By what caprice
of fate, I exclaimed, is the dwelling of Bolingbroke con-
verted into a malthouse and mill ? This house, once
sacred to philosophy and poetry, long sanctified by the
residence of the noblest genius of his age, honoured by the
frequent visits of Pope, and the birth-place of the immortal
* Kssay on Man,' is now appropriated to the basest uses !
The house of Bolingbroke become a windmill — the spot on
which the " Essay on Man " was concocted and produced,
converted into a distillery of pernicious spirits ! Are these
the sports of fortune ? Are such the means by which an
eternal agency sets at nought the ephemeral consequence
of man ? But yesterday, this spot was the resort, the hope,
and the seat of happiness of Bolingbroke, Pope, Swift,
Arbuthnot, Thomson, Mallet, and all the contemporary
genius of England — yet a few whirls of the earth round the
sun, the change of a figure in the date of the year, and the
group has vanished, while in its place I behold hogs and
horses, malt-bags and barrels, stills and machinery!
" Alas," said I, to the worthy occupier, " and are these the
representatives of more human genius than England may
ever witness on one spot again ? " " No, sir," he rejoined,
"I love the name of Bolingbroke, and I preserve the house
as well as I can, with religious veneration. I often smoke
my pipe in Mr. Pope's parlour, and think of him as I walk
the part of the terrace opposite his room and next the
water." He then conducted me to this interesting parlour,
which is of brown polished oak, with a grate, and orna-
ments of the age of George I. ; and before its window stood
the portion of the terrace upon which the malthouse had
not encroached, with the Thames moving majestically
under its wall. I was on holy ground — I did not take off
my shoes — but I doubtless felt what pilgrims feel as they
approach the temples of Jerusalem, Mecca, or Jaggernaut !
Of all poems, and of all codes of wisdom, I admire the
'Essay on Man' and its doctrines the most, and in this
room it was probably planned, discussed, and written !
FAMOUS BATTERSEA HOUSES. 63
Mr. Hodgson told me this had always been called Pope's
room, and he had no doubt it was the apartment usually
occupied by that great poet in his visits to his friend
Besides this room, several other parts of the original
house remain, and are occupied and kept in good order.
Mr. Hodgson told me, however, that this is but a wing of
the mansion, which extended in L,ord Bolingbroke's time
to the churchyard of St. Mary, the land is now occupied
by the malthouse and its warehouses."
The Red House.
A famous house, which stood on the river bank near
Chelsea Bridge, on the Vauxhall side, dating from the time
of Queen Elizabeth. It was built of red brick with white
pointings, and only had one storey above the ground floor.
The house contained fourteen rooms ; the windows on
the lower floor had wood shutters painted green ; these
shutters had large bolts which fastened on the inside.
The roof was slated.
In the gardens were a number of small arbours, which
were decorated with Flemish and other paintings, and in
the centre of the grounds was a well-stocked fish pond,
which was always an attraction. Behind the house was a
large shooting ground, where pigeon shooting matches,
and other sports and games took place during the summer
months. These matches brought much discredit upon the
house, as most of them took place on Sunday mornings,
and attracted some of the worst characters in London.
The gardens were illuminated every night with oil lamps,
which were hung about the grounds. Seats and benches
were placed in the gardens among the trees for the
accommodation of visitors. From each end of the grounds
a flight of steps led down to the river for the purpose of
landing passengers and watermen.
64 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Charles Dickens mentions " The Red House " in
"Sketches by Boz," when the "swells" of society used to
meet here to engage in pigeon shooting and other amuse-
ments. This was prior to the time when Hurlingham
became the fashionable resort. The Red House was the
winning post for most of the boat races which took place
on the river, some of which were of importance in their
day. In 1825 a prize wherry was rowed for by seven
pairs of oars, the course being from Westminster Bridge to
the Red House. The prize was given by the actor,
Edmund Kean. At this time the Oxford and Cambridge
boat race was rowed from Westminster Bridge to Putney,
and the Red House was considered the best point of view
on the river.
Calburn, in his "Kalendar of Amusements" (1840),
says. " The Red House at Battersea takes the lead for
pigeon shooting, as all the crack shots assemble there tor
matches of importance, and the shooting is so good that
it seldom occurs that a single bird escapes." Col. Saxby,
in his book on " The Municipal Parks of London," says
that the Red House was celebrated for its flounder break-
fasts, the fish being plentiful in the Thames at that date.
In the month of August a great sucking-pig dinner
was held, at which many noblemen assembled ; and the
officers from Whitehall used to make the trip to the Red
House on account of the novelty of the meals, and the
fresh air. Charles Dickens was a visitor to the Red House
about this time, and took much interest in a raven which
was kept there, named " Gyp," which greatly amused
Dickens by his cunning tricks, and funny, artful ways, and
may have given him some inspiration for creating his
raven "Grip" in " Barnaby Rudge."
In the nineteenth century fairs were held in the grounds
of the Red House, but became so rowdy that they had
to be discontinued. The Rev. Thomas Kirk, a well-known
divine in his day, made a strong protest against the scandal
of the Red House, as follows: " If ever there was a place
FAMOUS BATTERSEA HOUSES. 65
out of hell, which surpassed Sodom and Gomorrah in
ungodliness and abomination, this was it. I have gone to
this sad spot on the Lord's Day, when there have been
horse and donkey races, foot racing, walking matches,
comic actors, shameless dancers, gamblers, drinking
booths, and fortune-tellers, but it would be impossible
to describe the unmentionable doings of this pandemonium
on earth." He then goes on to say, " I asked a pier-man
how many people were landed on Sundays at the pier,
and he said, when the weather was fine, from ten to fifteen
thousand." This influx was in addition to the arrivals
by road, the total number of visitors on a Sunday being
computed at fifty to sixty thousand.
In its early history, the Red House had a good reputa-
tion as a popular resort for pleasure-seekers, aquatic
sportsmen, and watermen, but in later years fell into bad
repute. It was well known for many a debauch, many
an assignation, and many other things besides pigeon
shooting. Some of the incidents which happened there
are best hidden in the blur of the past.
When Battersea Park was in course of construction in
1844, the Red House, with all its shooting ground and
adjacent premises, was purchased by the Commissioners,
the sum paid being ^10,000. The buildings were then
demolished, and so ended the once famous Red House,
with all its reputations and traditions.
An old-time mansion, near the corner of Lombard
Road, facing York Road. A small portion of this building
still exists, being part of Price's Candle Works. It
was one of the finest residences on the river front, and was
shaded with lime, sycamore, and poplar trees. Many
celebrated families lived here, the first being Jens Wolfe,
who was the Danish consul ; he was a collector of works
66 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
of art, and had a valuable collection of antique statues and
plaster casts, the most valuable being those from the
" Fighting Gladiators," the " Barberini Faun," the " Dying
Gladiator," and " Hercules." Another occupier was Sir
Edward East, who lived there many years ; a later tenant
was Sir George Wombwell, who, with Lady Wombwell,
entertained on a grand scale. Sir George's son was
aide-de-camp to Earl Cardigan, and rode with him "into
the Valley of Death" at Balaclava. The Wombwells
were the last family of note to reside at Sherwood Lodge.
The old Falcon Brook ran down from Lavender Hill by
the side of the Lodge to the river.
Broomfield, a large house, which stood in its own
grounds, about the centre of what is now Broomwood
Road, takes its place in history as being the home of
William Wilberforce, and the house in which was founded
the British Bible Society, and the Church Missionary
Society ; and as the birthplace of Canon Wilberforce, once
Bishop of Winchester. Many eminent men have met in
this house to confer with Wilberforce, when he was fighting
for the emancipation of the slaves. Among those men of
the time who visited at Broomfield were Burke, Fox, Gran-
ville Sharp, Clarkson, Lord Castlereagh, Lord Macaulay,
and the Rev. Hughes, a noted Battersea Divine, whom
Wilberforce had a great respect for.
That earnest band of Christian men, known as the
Clapham Sect, also met in this house for some time, and
did much of their work there.
A memorial meeting was held in the grounds of
Broomfield House, those who had worked in the anti-
slave crusade meeting for thanksgiving, when the first
Slave Emancipation Bill passed into law. On this
occasion Wilberforce received congratulations from all
FAMOUS BATTERSEA HOUSES. 67
parts of the civilised world. Modern villas now stand
upon the site of this historic house. The London County
Council have affixed a tablet to one of the villas, which
notifies that Broomfield, the home of Wilberforce, stood
on that site.
Lubbock House, Battersea Rise.
Standing in its own spacious grounds, Lubbock House
was an old-fashioned mansion, built in the early eighteenth
century, and, as a building, calls for no special note. Its
historical interest rests in its connection with the men of
note, who lived, or visited there, during the first fifty years
of its existence.
The house was built by a Mr. Lubbock, who was a
banker of repute, and an ancestor of Lord Avebury.
In 1792 it was purchased by Henry Thornton, a prominent
citizen of Clapham, whose family has always been held in
high esteem. It remained the ancestral home of the
Thornton family, until it was demolished to make room for
modern villas. The last tenant was Mr. Percy Thornton,
who was the Member of Parliament for Clapham.
Soon after Henry Thornton purchased Lubbock
House, William Wilberforce went to live with him, and
they resided there, in bachelor estate, until Thornton
married, when Wilberforce took " Broomfield " as his new
One of the chief attractions in this old house was the
oval library, which was designed by William Pitt. In this
room Wilberforce met and conferred with some of the
foremost men of his day, including Fox, Clarkson, Gran-
ville Sharp, Macaulay, Buxton, and Pitt, and planned
much of the work for carrying on the anti-slave crusade.
Lubbock House is also memorable as being the home
of the " Clapham Sect," a Christian body of men who
were given that name by Sydney Smith. The grounds
68 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
of Lubbock House were very fine, studded with fine elms,
cedars, and Scotch firs, and bright with tulips and other
flowers ; in these grounds Sir Walter Scott used to stroll,
and Hannah More roamed; Robert Southey rested under
the shady elms, and Zachary Macaulay stood listening to
the singing of the birds. These celebrities were visitors
at Ivubbock House, in their day.
There were other old-time houses in and around
Battersea, but their history does not call for any special
OLD TIME TAVERNS.
BATTERSEA, like most places with a historic past,
can claim to have several noted taverns, or inns,
some of which have their place in histoiy. There
is a quaint charm about an old-time inn, which sets the
imagination to work and claims attention. We picture
the old merry group gathered by the ingle nook, passing
away the time with jest and joke. There were rare good
times in those days for the host and his guests, — the time
when the Georges were on the throne. The inns were
cosy and comfortable, with spacious rooms and old-
fashioned home comforts. The little diamond-shaped
windows, out of which the traveller watched the approach
of the stage-coach, or the passing of the flying mail coach,
which was then looked upon as the consummation of quick
transit. An old-time book, now as rare as it is curious,
called "The London Spy," conducted by Ned Ward, gives
some amusing tales of the doings in those old-time taverns
when Swift, Addison, Johnson, Steele, and many other
worthies of that time, cracked their jokes over steaming
bowls of punch.
One of the most ancient taverns in Battersea was the
old " Falcon," which was built nearly 300 years ago. The
original house stood near where the present "Falcon"
stands, it was surrounded by orchards and floral gardens,
flanking on country lanes, with few houses until the village
of Wandsworth was reached. A later house, built about
the beginning of the nineteenth century, was kept by a
man named Robert Death, and at this time the house was
70 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
a place of call for undertakers on their return from the
burial ground ; some of these men and their friends often
got merry in their cups, and it was not an uncommon
sight to see a funeral-party dancing on the green in front
of the inn. The artist, John Nixon, was so much amused
by the landlord's name that he painted a picture of the
tavern entitled " Drinking at Death's door," in which he
depicted a merry lot of undertakers disporting themselves
in front of the inn. This satire has many times been
copied, the original is in the British Museum.
About a century ago, when Mr. Robert Death was
landlord of the " Falcon," the following lines were written:
"Oh stop not here, ye sottish wights,
For purl, nor ale, nor gin,
For if you stop, whoe'er alights,
By Death is taken in.
When having eat and drank your fill
Should ye, O hapless case.
Neglect to pay your landlord's bill —
Death stares you in the face.
With grief sincere, I pity those
Whove drawn themselves this scrape in,
Since from his dreadful grip, Heaven knows,
Alas ! there's no escaping.
This one advice, my friends pursue,
Whilst you have life and breath,
Ne'er pledge your host, for if you do,
You'll surely drink to Death."
The " White Hart," in Lombard Road, dates back
to 1600. Charles II. was a frequent visitor to this house
when he was in his merry moods, and it was while
staying here that he almost lost his life. Colonel Blood,
who some time afterwards attempted to steal the crown
jewels, confessed to having had designs upon the king's
OLD TIME TAVERNS. 71
liie. Blood hid near Battersea Priory, where a sub-
terranean passage led to the river bank close to the place
where the king came to bathe. He had been chosen to
kill the king by a body of men who resented the king's
interference with their religious opinions. Blood relented
at the last moment, and the king returned to the inn.
Rapier, in his history of England, says that Charles II.
not only forgave him, but settled a pension of ^500 per
annum upon him for life.
The "Old Swan," near the Parish Church, is an
historic house, and has been immortalised in song by
Dibdin in one of his operettas. This tavern was the resort
of the old river watermen, who were an important class
at that time ; it was also the headquarters of some of the
boating crews when the Thames Regatta was an institu-
tion. For many years the "Old Swan" was the most
popular tavern on the river front.
In the Plough Lane (Plough Road) was an inn of some
repute in its day, known as the " Old House," famous for
its home-brewed ales. It was a favourite house with the
market gardeners and Sunday morning travellers, who
used to disport themselves on the grass and under the
oak trees which stood near the house.
The " Raven," in the High Street, is another old inn
with a past, for old records show that the " Merry
Monarch " often visited this house, and many scenes of
revelry took place within its walls.
The "Star and Garter," and the "Castle," are both
taverns which have an interesting past, dating from the
seventeenth century ; the hey-day of their prosperity were
in the old coaching days, before the advent of railways,
but their days of interest have long passed away.
Past Battersea Fields, towards the end of the parish,
stood the "Nine Elms Tavern," which was built in the
days when all this part of Battersea was a wild open space,
with here and there a cornfield, and a few market gardens,
hedged in with hawthorn and May blossom in the summer
72 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
months ; there were neatly kept pleasure grounds and tea
gardens attached, and at a later date it was known for all
kinds of "sports," which were carried on. The nine elms,
from which the lane derived its name, stood near this
The "Old House at Home" stood near Battersea
Fields, not far from the Red House ; it was a small
thatched building, which answered the double purpose
of beerhouse and farmhouse combined, it had a reputation
for the excellence of its egg flip, which consisted of hot
ale or stout, into which new-laid eggs were beaten, after
being well mixed, it was sweetened with sugar. This was
a popular Sunday morning drink of many who were on
their way to the Red House sports. All beers sold at
this house were drawn direct from the casks, which were
in full view of the customers. Near this house, in the
summer time, gipsies and other old-time tent-dwellers
pitched their encampments. When the Red House
festivities were at their height, a barge, richly gilded,
called " The Folly," was moored in the river, where the
bloods of the period, with their ladies, assembled for
dancing and card-playing. On their way home many
of these revellers called at the " Old House at Home "
for an egg flip.
Another tavern of note was " Ye Old Plough Inn,"
on St. John's Hill, which was built a.d. 1701, and was
pulled down in 1874, the present " Plough " being erected
upon the site. In front of the old inn grew an oak tree,
beneath its shade travellers used to sit and enjoy their
refreshments. There is some grounds for the belief
that the notorious Dick Turpin once stayed at this house
for some time, when he was nightly visiting the Garrett
Lane district, the lane was then a lonely Surrey high road,
leading to Tooting and Merton, where many of the gentry
resided whom Turpin used to intercept on their way home,
and demand his toll. Tradition says that he was often
in hiding at the " Plough," when he was hard pressed
UEaa :• ■
a I |i
1 ' <*-
wi BETS .
- 1 '
OLD TIME TAVERNS. 73
by the men of law. The house was very picturesque in
its surroundings, with seats and benches beneath the
overhanging trees, and the old-time lattice windows of
the inn. A rhymster of the time wrote the following lines
in memory of the old oak tree which grew in front of the
" Plough "—
" Here stands the remains of the old oak tree,
That flourished when knights of the road roamed free,
When bands of lawless, yet chivalrous wights,
Struck fear to the hearts of purse-proud knights.
This gay old king of the forest wild,
His proud head bowed to the sun's bright smile ;
His leaves to the murmuring breeze did fling
In the cool shade of the old Plough Inn.
When the knights of the road of their deeds did sing,
As the chorus loud made the rafters ring,
They drank to the health of Turpin the bold,
When he brought to the ' Plough ' his ill-gotten gold.
So here's to the memory of the old Plough Inn,
And all the past memories of things that have been."
DOMESDAY Book says that Battersea had many mills
for grinding corn and for other purposes. Whiting
works and lime kilns were in the parish as far back
as 1650. Pottery works were established in 1700, and a
turnery stood near Nine Elms L,ane ; at a later date cement
works and breweries were in operation. Brickmaking
was carried on in some fields on Pig Hill (Latchmere
Road). Cattle breeding flourished to some extent, sheds
and outbuildings were erected on part of the site of
Bolingbroke House. These buildings had accommodation
for six hundred head of cattle, the animals were fattened
by meal which was ground and prepared in a mill built
on the same site. Another industry at this time (1700)
was salmon fishing, salmon being very plentiful in the
river at certain times of the year. A good trade was
done by the Battersea and Chelsea boatmen.
There was a foundry in Battersea, about 1660, for
casting shot for the Tower of London. Along the river
front there were several factories and works, some of
which are still carried on, and have grown into important
industries. Not far from Price's factory, Freeman's colour
and varnish works were established ; then came Whiffin's
chemical factory, and near to the old creek was Nash
and Miller's barge building yard ; another boat and barge
building yard was one owned by A. B. Cox, who had a
good reputation as a boat builder. Mr. H. B. Condy, the
inventor of Condy's Fluid, and antiseptic aromatic vinegar,
had his first manufactory on the river side, near Nine
BATTERSEA INDUSTRIES. 75
Elms. The Silicated Carbon Filter Co., which employed a
number of hands, also had their works contiguous to
Condy's. An important factory on the river front is
Morgan's crucible and plumbago works. This firm is
now the largest crucible makers in the world, doing an
immense business in all kinds of crucibles for melting and
refining various kinds of metals, which are sent to all
parts of the world. Crucible making is a very old art, we
know that crucibles were used in the twelfth century by
the old alchemists when they tried to transmute into gold
the six other metals which were then known to philoso-
phers. For scientific research the crucible has occupied an
important place in history, and it has been aptly termed
the cradle of experimental chemistry. In 1832 Dr. Kyan
established in Battersea his works for preserving wood
from dry rot by a process known as Kyanizing.
The Old Silk Factory.
The silk industry was brought to England from
France by the Hugenots in 1639, who settled in Wands-
worth and Spitalfields, some of those who settled at
Wandsworth found their way to Battersea, where, among
other industries, they set up a silk factory, and some of
their descendants had a factory at the commencement of
the nineteenth century, near the river, on the site where
now stands Garton Hill's works, in York Road. At this
time a large number of hauds were employed, as it was
one of the staple trades of the district. The business was
carried on by Messrs. Curnell, Tyell & Webster. The
road which runs down to the river by the side of Garton
Hill's works was known as Silk Factory Lane (now York
Place). The factory fell into decay on the decline of the
silk trade, but down to 1840 some of the old looms and
silk weaving machinery were still intact.
About this date the building was taken over by Mr.
Fownes, and converted into a glove factory.
76 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
The Wellington Works, Battersea Bridge.
In the year 1744, Joseph Bowley came from Notting-
ham to London and commenced the business of soap and
candle making. London then, as now, was looked upon
by men with business aspiration as the Mecca for trade
and commerce, so Joseph Bowley set up a factory at
Westminster for the purpose of manufacturing soap and
candles, and for refining oil. After passing through the
usual vicissitudes of a new business, success began to
loom ahead, and from a small beginning a large business
grew, and continued to grow until about 1868, when the
works were removed to Battersea, as much larger premises
were required for their increasing trade, the Wellington
Works were established near Battersea Bridge. The
business has grown so rapidly during the past forty years
that the works now occupy nearly the whole of Wellington
Road, and a large river frontage, with all facilities for
loading and landing goods. The soap and candle making
departments have been closed owing to the rapid growth
of other departments, which now comprise oil refining,
varnish making, motor spirit and naptha distilling, also
colour and paint manufacturing. The factory is equipped
with all modern appliances for the blending and mixing
of all kinds of lubricating oils and paints, and the pro-
duction of motor spirit.
The firm has a wide business connection, not only
at home, but in the Colonies and foreign countries.
The present head of the firm, Joseph John Bowley,
F.C.S., is a direct descendant of the founder, he is an
associate member of the Society of Chemical Industry,
also a member of the Chamber of Commerce ; he is ably
assisted in the business by his son.
The Wellington Works, like many other works where
inflammable products are used, has had its "fires," the
two most severe were in 1883 an d * n 1906, the latter
BATTER SEA INDUS TRIES. 77
destroyed nearly half the entire works on the north side
of Wellington Road, and before the fire was got under
all the petroleum spirit storage was destroyed. The fire,
when at its height, was visible for many miles, as the huge
flames shot upwards from the spirit storage; the oils and
spirit also ran into the river, making vast sheets of flame
upon the surface of the water, and, as the reporters said,
Messrs. Bowley had the distinction of having set the
Thames on fire.
At one time considerable trade was done in Battersea
in wicker work, osiers grew plentifully on the river banks,
which were known as the osier grounds. Many of these
osiers were sold, in the by-gone time, for church purposes,
and were called church osiers.
Fownes' Glove Factory.
This industry was established at Battersea in 1777 by
Mr. John Fownes, who was a prominent citizen of Battersea
during the eighteenth century, he lived at Poplar House,
which stood in Falcon L,ane, near to where Hunt and
Cole's shop now stands. The factory and grounds
occupied the greater portion of one side of the lane.
The importance of these works is shown by the fact that
in the busy season upwards of six hundred hands were
employed. When the land in Falcon Lane became
valuable for building purposes the works were removed
to the old silk factory in York Road, and some years later
the business left Battersea, being transferred to Worcester.
A small branch of the business is still carried on (1913)
in Battersea, where many hands are employed. Fownes
have a large warehouse at 71 Gresham Street, from which
their gloves are exported to all parts of the world, for the
name " Fownes " stands high in the glove trade.
78 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
In 1847 Mr. Fownes gave the freehold site for the
building of Christ Church.
Brunei/s Saw Miu,.
Sir Mark Brunei had his veneer works and saw mills
near the old Battersea Bridge; early in the nineteenth
century these works are thus described by a writer in
the British Register: —
" But a few yards from the toll-gate of the bridge, on
the western side of the road, stand the work-shops of that
eminent mechanic, Mr. Brunei, who has effected as much
for the mechanic arts as any man of his time. The
wonderful apparatus in the Dockyard at Portsmouth, by
which he cuts blocks for the Navy with a precision and
expedition that astonish every beholder, secures him a
monument of fame, and eclipses all rivalry. His work-
shops are free from ostentation. In a small building on
the left, I was attracted by the action of a steam-engine
of a sixteen-horse, or eighty men, power, and was ushered
into a room where it turned, by means of bands, four
wheels fringed with fine saws, two of them eighteen feet
in diameter, and two of nine feet. These circular saws
were used for the purpose of separating veneers, and a
more perfect operation was never performed. I beheld
planks of mahogany and rosewood sawed into veneers
the sixteenth of an inch thick, with a precision and
grandeur of action which really was sublime ! The same
power at once turned these tremendous saws, and drew
their work upon them. A large sheet of veneer, nine or
ten feet long by two feet broad, was thus separated in
about ten minutes ; so even, and so uniform, that it
appeared more like a perfect work of nature than one of
human art! The force of these saws may be conceived
when it is known that the large ones revolve sixty-five
times in a minute."
BATTERSEA INDUSTRIES. 79
The saw mills and works were destroyed by fire
In 1 81 2 a shoe factory stood on the banks of the river,
near Battersea creek, where discharged soldiers and others
were taught the trade of shoe making. The factory is
thus described by a writer in the Monthly Magazine : —
" At Battersea there is a manufactory of shoes, full of
ingenuity, and which, in regard to the subdivision of
labour, brings this fabric on a level with the oft-admired
manufactory of pins. Every step in it is effected by the
most elegant and precise machinery ; while as each opera-
tion is performed by one hand, so each shoe passes through
twenty-five hands, who finish from the hide, as supplied
by the currier, a hundred pair of strong and well-finished
shoes per day. All the details are performed by ingenious
applications of the mechanic powers, and all the parts
are characterised by precision, uniformity, and accuracy.
As each man performs but one step in the process, which
implies no knowledge of what is done by those who go
before or follow him, so the persons employed are not
shoemakers, but wounded soldiers, who are able to learn
their respective duties in a few hours."
It is interesting to note that the system of each work-
man making one part of a shoe only, which was com-
menced in the American shoe factories a few years ago,
and has been adopted in the British manufactories, was
carried out in the Battersea shoe factory one hundred
Battersea Soap Works.
In 1 8 13 an extensive soap factory was built at a cost
of ^60,000. It stood near the bridge, facing the river,
the factory was fitted with the latest machinery and
80 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
appliances for soap making, but had not been working
long before great objection was taken by many of the
inhabitants of Battersea and Chelsea to the noxious fumes
and gases arising from the works, and an indictment
against the continuance of the manufactory was brought
in the Law Courts. The Judge, in summing up the case,
said, "It was to be regretted that a less polite and populous
site had not been chosen for such a factory, useful manu-
factories should be fostered, but it would be sacrificing
the end of living to the means, if they were allowed to
annoy whole districts by their smoke, noise or effluvia."
The verdict went against the owner, and the works
were closed down. Shortly after the proprietor became
Price's Candle Works.
The Growth of a Great Industry.
Battersea is the home of the candle industry, for
although Price's Candle Co., che pioneers of the candle
trade, commenced their business at Vauxhall nearly one
hundred years ago, the great development of the business
has taken place since the transfer of the works to Battersea
nearly seventy years ago, and its growth has been on a
par with the progress of the science and art of candle
making, until at the present day their goods are exported
to all parts of the globe, and "Price's" have established
oversea branches in South Africa and China, and are
now the largest candle makers in the world.
It was in 1833 that the first "stearic" candles were
made. The inventor, a Frenchman, did not attain much
success, and it was not until some years later that they
became of commercial value, when M. de Milly founded
his " Stearic Candle Works " in Paris. Mr. James Soames
invented a device for separating cocoa-nut oil into its
solid and liquid components. This patent was pur-
BATTER SEA INDUSTRIES. 81
chased by Mr. William Wilson and his partner, candle
makers, trading as E. Price & Co., and it was first used
by this firm for the production of candles and lamp oil.
The plaited wick was patented in France in 1825 by
Cambaceres. By the use of this wick the need for snuffing
candles is obviated, for during combustion the wick
becomes untwisted so that the lighted end is bent outside
the flame, and, meeting the air, is completely consumed.
In 1840, Mr. J. P. Wilson, of Price's, invented an improved
self-snuffing candle, which was known as the "Composite,"
so called because of the mixture of material in its manu-
facture. At this time Price's had established steam mills
at Ceylon for crushing cocoa-nuts to extract the oil for
their London factory, and a great impetus had been given
to the candle trade by a change in the tariffs, improved
machinery, and the advent of steam navigation. Another
advance in the making of candles was made by Messrs.
Blundell, Spence & Co., of Hull, but as the candles made
by this new process were of a dark colour, they did not
come into general use.
In 1842 a discovery was patented by Price's, in the
names of W. C. Jones and G. F. Wilson, which allowed
palm oil and greases to be made into a white and inodorous
material for candles.
The manufacture of night lights (or " mortars," as
they were originally called) was begun in 1843, and in
1848 the Company acquired a patent held by Mr. G. M.
Clarke, and in 1849 the night-light business of Mr. Samuel
Child— hence the well-known name "Child's Night
Lights." This branch of the business, like that of candle-
making, has seen many changes since its introduction.
Beginning with the poured lights, consisting of mixed
fats, and passing on to the moulded coco-stearin lights,
introduced as "New Patent Night Lights" in 1853, by
Mr. George F. Wilson, they then reached a paraffin
period, in which the " Royal Castle" and " Palmitine Star"
night lights made their appearance.
82 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
The Belmont Works, which had been established at
Vauxhall under the name of Edward Price & Co., con-
tinued to prosper to such an extent that in 1847 the
business was formed into a company with a capital of
^500,000. In 1850 James Young invented what was
known as paraffin wax, and Price's was the first firm to
use it in the manufacture of candles, these candles were of
a much superior quality to any others then on the market.
The total imports of palm oil into England, which amount-
ed to nineteen thousand eight hundred tons in 1840, rose
to about fifty thousand tons in 1871, and are now in the
region of seventy-five thousand tons. This increase of
importation was undoubtedly due in very great part to the
use of the oil for the manufacture of candles, and it is this
trade which presents to the African chiefs and kings along
the West Coast the motive that they can best understand
for the abandonment of the slave trade. The lesson is
learnt that subjects are of more value to their rulers when
collecting palm oil than when sold into slavery. In 1843
Messrs. Price's opened a small factory in Battersea, which
was run in conjunction with the one at Vauxhall until
the end of 1864, when the Vauxhall works were closed,
a freehold was purchased at York Place, and the present
Battersea factory erected.
In the year 1854 the Company entered upon the
manufacture of household soap, and they have gradually
developed this branch of their business until they have
now become makers of all kinds of household, mill,
laundry, soft, and disinfecting (carbolic) soaps.
In motor oils they also do an extensive business. In
1912 the Company acquired the large, and very old estab-
lished business of Charles Price & Co., and their extensive
works at Belvedere, in order to secure greater accommoda-
tion to meet the demands of increasing business in lubri-
cating oils, etc.
Several inventions of an important character in
machinery and the method of making candles have been
BATTERSEA INDUSTRIES. 83
patented by Messrs. Price during the past forty years,
which have not only resulted in large increases in their
own business, but have contributed to the advancement
of the candle-making trade in general.
By Act of Parliament, in 1857, the capital of the
Company had been increased to ;£i, 000,000. The premises
have been enlarged and additions built from time to time
as the business grew, until now (1913) the ground area is
over fourteen acres, and the firm employs close upon one
thousand seven hundred hands, while the total number of
employees at Liverpool, Manchester, and Battersea, is
over three thousand.
In 1 87 1 Mr. John Hodges, foreman of the paraffin
department, discovered a method for producing white
paraffin from paraffin scale, without using spirit of any
Price's Company look after the welfare of their work-
people ; at Vauxhall, in the early forties, they established
a night school for the improvement of their workers.
This was the first factory school in England, and did
some good work at a time when the education of the
people was being neglected. At the present day they
are doing much in the interest of their employees at
their works near Liverpool, which were opened in 1853.
Here the company built one hundred and forty cottages
and a school, they also built a church and a lecture hall,
and have recently added a library and a cottage hospital.
At Battersea they established the " Workers' Pension
Fund," the money being provided by the Company. They
also inaugurated the Belmont Institute, which provides
classes, library, and recreation clubs, also sewing and
singing classes lor girls, all of which have been a source
of pleasure and profit to their workers.
From such a small beginning nearly a century ago,
this marvellous progress has been made in a great indus-
try, from the primitive "dip" to the beautifully finished
candle of th« present day.
84 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
The Starch Factory.
In 1840 Orlando Jones invented a process by which
starch could be manufactured from rice. By this process
a much better starch was obtained, both as to colour and
purity, and at less cost than by the old method. Before
this invention, starch had been made from potatoes, maize,
and wheat ; starch made from wheat is the oldest known
process, for Pliny mentions it in his Natural History two
centuries ago. When ruffles and frills and full-bottomed
wigs were the fashion, large quantities of wheat starch
were used. There are about forty-five varieties of rice.
Most of these rice plants originated in India, and from that
country have spread over the whole of Asia, and to other
parts of the world. Orlando Jones' invention consisted of
the treatment of rice by an alkaline solution, the alkali
being used in such a way as to dissolve the gluten without
in any way destroying the property of the starch. In 1848
the firm of Orlando Jones & Co. removed from their works
at Whitechapel and built a factory in the York Road, with
a frontage to the river. The site is now occupied by
Dawney's iron and steel works.
The starch business became an extensive one, employ-
ing between two hundred and three hundred hands. The
manufacture of a new laundry blue, by a process invented
by one of the managers, was added to the business in 1896,
and attained a large sale. The business was sold to
Messrs. Coleman, mustard manufacturers, and transferred
to their works at Norwich in 1901, when the Battersea
works were closed down.
The Nine Elms Gas Works.
Battersea had some connection with the early intro-
duction of gas for general lighting, for it was in 1857 that
BATTERSEA INDUSTRIES. 85
the old London Gas Light Company began the making of
gas at Nine Elms Lane, in some new works they had
erected. The Company had been formed in 1833, and had
made gas in their works at Vauxhail ; the new works at
Battersea, the largest in England at that date, marked a
great advance in gas manufacture. There were five retort
houses and eight purifiers, with four gas holders, which
would receive six million feet of gas. The main entrance
gate was near the old mill-pond bridge, there were also
three other entrances. The number of men employed
during the winter season was upwards of four hundred.
This number was increased in later years, when the
extension of the works, and improved machinery, greatly
increased the output of gas.
In 1865 an explosion of gas took place at the works,
by which ten men lost their lives, and a great many of
the workmen were injured, much damage being done to
the adjacent property. John Timbs, in his " History of
Inventions," thus describes the accident: "On October
31st, 1865, at the London Gas-light Works, Battersea, a
gas holder exploded, killing many workmen. This holder
was one of the largest in London, being one hundred
and fifty feet in diameter, sixty feet high, and as the side
plates were very thick the force of the explosion must
have been great, for when the holder burst, there was
an immense rush of gas, which instantly caught fire, and
shot up in a vast column of flame. The concussion ripped
open another gas-holder, when the escaping gas caught
fire, and meeting the flames of the first gas-holder, the
fire rolled away in one vast expansive flame ; many of the
houses in the vicinity were shattered to pieces."
Street gas-lighting does not date very far back, being
first used for lighting the streets of London in 1807, and as
late as 1826 it was not in general use, for it was strongly
opposed, as a great public danger. When it was proposed
to light the House of Commons with gas, a member
gravely moved that the pipe which conveyed the gas to
86 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
the burners should be fixed three inches from the walls,
as a precaution against fire. In 1859, an Act of Parlia-
ment was passed to prevent gas works being erected
within ten miles of London.
There are other industries of note in Battersea, but
as they are, comparatively, of modern growth, they have
not been included in this history.
BATTERSEA AND BOTANY.
BOOKS on botany, published in the eighteenth and
early nineteenth centuries, show that many varieties
of indigenous plants and flowers grew in Battersea
about the fields, hedges, and highways. In 1820 William
Pamplin, who was a noted florist in his day, had his
nurseries and planting grounds on Lavender Hill, where he
kept a collection of specimens of plants and flowers which
grew in the neighbourhood of Battersea, many of which he
supplied to some of the best families about London. The
following list of local plants and flowers and their locality,
shows an interesting aspect of Battersea in by-gone
This list of indigenous plants is largely compiled from
the works of Sir J. E. Smith, who published his work on
"English Botany" in thirty-six volumes, about 1819.
The technical and Latin terms and names are omitted.
Annual Yellow Cress. — Grew in damp low ground near
Vauxhall, very rare.
Arrow Head. — Grew by the Thames and in the ditches
near Battersea Fields.
Blood-veined Dock. — Though rare, this was found on
the bank of a ditch between the nursery and the footpath
on Lavender Hill.
Broad Hedge Mustard. — Was found in waste ground
about Battersea. Ray says " It came up abundantly after
the Great Fire of London, in the years 1667 and 1668."
Broad-leaved Helleborine. — Rather rare, but was found
on the banks of Lord Spencer's Park.
88 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Brookweed or Water Pimpernel. — Rare, but has been
found in a marshy piece of land near the footpath leading
from the Red House to Battersea.
Bur Mary gold. — This grew in great profusion in Batter-
Butter Bur. — Grew in the marshes by the Thames side
Cat Mint. — Not common, was found on the banks of a
field adjoining a nursery on Lavender Hill.
Celandine. — Was found in hedge banks near Lavender
Hill and Battersea Fields.
Common Bank Carex.—Was found growing abundantly
in Battersea Fields.
Common Carex. — This was found growing in a brook
at the foot of Lavender Hill.
Common Hemlock. — Was found in the lane running
from Clapham Common to Lavender Hill, also by the
footpath from Battersea Bridge to the Red House.
Common Skull Cap. — Was found by the side of ditches
in Battersea Fields.
Common Tway-blade. — Was found in the meadows at
foot of Lavender Hill, near a footpath leading to Balham.
Corn Gromwell. — Not common, at times was seen in
the Battersea cornfields.
Corn Salad.— -Was found on dry banks near Lavender
Cowslip. — Plentiful in fields on Lavender Hill.
Cut-leaved Nettle. — Very rare, was found in cultivated
fields about Lavender Hill.
English Mercury. — Could be found in hedgebanks and
in cultivated ground about Battersea.
Enchanter's Nightshade. — Very uncommon, grew in
shady lanes, was found in the lane leading from the
Fields to the Prince's Head Tavern.
Fetid Goosefoot. — Rare, but was sometimes seen
between Lavender Hill and Wandsworth ; it is a weed
which grows by the roadside.
BATTERSEA AND BOTANY. 89
Fine-leaved Water Dropwort. — Grew in the large ditches
and pools in Battersea Fields.
Flowering Rush. — Was plentiful in ditches between
Battersea Bridge and Vauxhall. A very handsome plant.
Great Yellow Loose Strife. — Found in ditches in
Battersea Fields, towards the Red House.
Great Water Dock. — Was to be found in the wide
ditches about Battersea Fields.
Great Water Scorpion Grass. — Was found in ditches
and the marshy land near Battersea Fields.
Gree?i Panic Grass. — This was rare, sometimes found
between the Bridge Road and the Nine Kims, near the
Hedge Mustard. — Grew on waste ground in dry
positions on the L,atchmoor Common.
Hemlock Dropwort. — Grew on the banks of the Thames
near Battersea Bridge, close to the Chelsea Waterworks.
Horse Radish. — Seen often in Battersea Fields and
Ivy -leaved Snapdragon. — Grows on old damp walls ;
was found at Battersea, Clapham, and Wandsworth.
Lesser Snapdragon. — A pretty annual plant which was
found in the Battersea corn-fields.
Loose Pa?iic Grass. — Found on moist, arable land near
Marsh Arrow Grass. — Plentiful in the marshes between
Battersea Bridge and the Red House.
Pere?mial Dove's-fool Cranes-bill.— Found on the banks
near Battersea Fields. Not common.
Remote Carex. — By no means common, has been found
in the brook near Lavender Hill.
Rough Panic Grass. — Very rare, Sir J. E. Smith
found some in Battersea Fields.
Round-leaved Cranes-bill. — Rare, was found on the
banks near the Lavender Hill nursery, and by the roadside
near the Prince's Head.
Self-heal. — The white flowered variety seldom met
90 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
with, but has been found in the meadows about Lavender
Shilling Cranes-bill. — This was not common, but could
be found in a lane leading from Clapham Common to
Small Marsh Valerian. — Found in the moist meadows
about Battersea Fields.
Smooth-headed Poppy . — Very uncommon, a weed which
grew in the gardens on Lavender Hill.
Smooth Naked Horse-tail. — Grew plentifully in Batter-
Snapdragon. — Very rare; some was found in arable
land on Lavender Hill.
Star of Bethlehem. — This was found on a piece of
waste pasture land near the Thames, west of the Red
Tall Red Rattle. — Rare, not often seen, sometimes
found in the moist meadows near the Red House.
Triangular Club Rush. — This was found on the banks
of the Thames between Battersea and Vauxhall.
Upright Annual Broom Grass. — Was seen growing on
an old wall near Battersea Church.
Water Aloe. — Could be gathered from a wide brook
near the foot of Lavender Hill, also in a pond opposite
"The Five Houses," Wandsworth Common.
Water Hemlock. — Grew in the ditches about Battersea.
Water Plantain. — Found in ponds and marshes, but
required diligent search, has been found on Lavender Hill
near the milestone.
Water Violet. — Was found in the principal ditches
near Battersea, and was plentiful on Latchmoor Com-
White Saxifrage. — Was found in meadows between
Battersea and Wandsworth.
Wild Endive. — The white variety is very rare, but has
been found in Battersea Fields.
BATTERSEA AND BOTANY. 91
Yellow Cress. — Grew near the Thames at Battersea,
Yellow Goals Beard. — Found in the meadows between
Battersea Fields and Lavender Hill.
Yellow Marsh Dock.— Rather rare, was found on the
inundated parts of Latchmoor Common.
Yellow Oat Grass. — Grew in the footpath from Batter-
sea Bridge to Lavender Hill. Not common.
THE old-time citizens of Battersea who could claim
to be wealthy, did not leave much of their wealth
to be enjoyed by their fellow citizens who were not
so well endowed with this world's goods. Old records
show that a number of bequests were made from time to
time, nearly all of which are conspicuously small, but in
considering this, it must be remembered, that when many
of those bequests were made, it was not the age of
millionaires, money was not so much centralised as it is at
the present time, fortunes were not so large, and many of
our best families lived a more simple life. There was little
globe trotting, or hunting of big game in those days,
money had not the uses it has now, therefore gentlemen
retired from commerce on much smaller fortunes than
they do in the present day, and when they made their
wills the bequests were smaller. More generosity was
also dispensed during the lifetime of wealthy people, as
the ties of life between the rich and the poor were much
closer than is the case now, when money is often hoarded
up by its owner during the whole of his lifetime, nothing
being dispensed until his death. Then, again, what was
looked upon as a considerable fortune one hundred years
ago would be thought a small one in the present age. The
value of money is constantly changing, and, dealing with
the last century, these features must be considered when
comparing old-time bequests with those of the present
BATTERSEA BEQUESTS. 93
John Banks Bequest.
By the will of John Banks, dated March 21st, 1716,
the sum of £2 10s. each was left to five poor men and
five poor women as an annuity ; the conditions were, resi-
dence in the parish of Battersea, applicants to be over
forty years of age, and nomination by a ratepayer of
the parish. The money was left in trust to the Haber-
dashers' Company, who had to make a half-yearly payment
of the pension at Haberdashers' Hall, and the pensioners
were to be provided with a dinner at the cost of the Com-
pany. The payments were to continue for the lifetime of
the recipients, unless valid reasons could be shewn for its
Ann Cooper Bequest.
Ann Cooper, by her will dated June 22nd, 1720, left
£300 in trust for the purchase of land, the rental to be
employed for the relief of so many poor persons of the
parish as the trustees should appoint, the money could
also be used for the purpose of apprenticing poor children
to trades. The nett income of this charity is now dis-
tributed in money gifts of five shillings each to poor
persons belonging to Battersea.
John Edmonds Bequest.
In 1743 John Edmonds left three houses situated in
the parish of St. Mary, Colechurch, the houses forming
part of Bird-in-Hand Alley in that parish. The income
from these houses was to be used for the purpose of
apprenticing as many poor boys belonging to the parish
of Battersea and Colechurch as the money would allow.
94 HISTORIC BATTER SEA
Mark Beu, Bequest.
In 1789 Mark Bell left ^1,000 upon trust for the
benefit of the minister of the dissenting meeting house,
Battersea, and his successors. The testator also left ,£200
upon like trust for the benefit of the minister for the time
being of an independent meeting house at Beverley, in
Yorkshire. The dividend from this first investment is now
about £40, which is received by the minister of the Baptist
Chapel, York Road.
Rebecca Wood Bequest.
The sum of ^"200 was left by this lady in 1796, the
interest of which was to be divided among twenty-four
poor families living in Battersea. The money was to be
expended in the purchase of bread, coal, and candles, and
distributed every seventh day of January.
Anthony Haldimand, in 1815, left by will ^"ioo to be
invested for the benefit of the poor of Battersea. The
interest on this sum is now incorporated with Rebecca
John Pavin Bequest.
John Pavin died in 1820, leaving by will the sum of
^1,000 in trust, to provide coal, candles, bread, and six
yards of flannel, to be distributed every year, on the 25th
of December, amongst forty-four widows residing at Nine
Elms and Battersea Fields, the recipients to be selected
by the vicar and churchwardens, who were the trustees.
He also left the sum of ^1,000 divided as follows: one
fourth of the amount to be applied for the benefit of St.
BATTERSEA BEQUESTS. 95
John's School ; one fourth part to be expended in the
purchase of bread, which was to be distributed every
Sunday at the Battersea Parish Church ; one fourth part to
be expended in the purchase of tea and sugar for the aged
women in the Battersea Workhouse ; and the remain-
ing fourth part to be applied for the benefit of the aged
men in the workhouse, who were in the habit of attending
divine service in the Parish Church.
Thomas Archer Bequest.
By the will dated August 23rd, 1827, the testator left
the sum of ,£100, in trust, for the Battersea poor. The
interest on this amount is given in sums of five shillings
to persons selected by the Minister and Churchwardens
The Buck and Perkin Bequest.
The following entry appears in an old cash book
relating to this bequest to Battersea: — "1828. Messrs.
Buck & Perkin, of Wandsworth, gave to this parish the
sum of ^500 for the purpose of repairing that portion of
the new road within this parish across Battersea and
Wandsworth Cynmon, and Nightingale Lane, which road
was made by the said two persons." This sum of ^500
was invested in Consols.
John Sheweu* Bequest.
The testator left the amount of £220 in September,
1829, which was to be applied for the benefit of the poor
during his sister Mary's lifetime. In an old register
relating to the parochial charities of Battersea it is shown
that ^40 a year was expended in bread, coal, and clothing,
from 1835 until the death of Mary Shewell in 1842.
96 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
John Rapp Bequest.
John Rapp left £200 on December 23rd, 1830, the
proceeds of the sale of his estate, which amount was to
be invested in three per cent. Consols, the interest to be
given annually to four poor men and four women at the
discretion of the Vicar and Churchwardens on Christ-
mas Day, the amount receivable being fifteen shillings
Henry Tritton, in 1838, left ^"1,000 invested in public
funds, the dividend to be paid to the minister for the
time being of the Battersea Baptist Chapel, York Road.
The amount of interest on this money is about ^40
John Charles Constable, in 1849, left £50 to the Vicar of
Battersea, to be invested, the interest to provide a dinner
every Christmas Day for eight poor families, inhabitants
of the parish. The money now amounts to £1 16s. a year
and is distributed in money, five shillings being given
each family in lieu of a dinner.
Rev. Edwin Thompson Bequest.
This testator bequeathed, in 1872, one quarter of his
fortune in trust to the Churchwardens of St. John's
Church, Battersea, to invest and distribute the annual
income among the poor of the parish in perpetuity, the
money to be expended in the best way the trustees
BATTERSEA BEQUESTS. 97
Henry Juer made a considerable fortune out of fruit
growing. His orchard covered a large tract of land near
the river. When he died, in 1874, he left ^500, free of
legacy duty, to invest for the benefit of the aged poor of
Battersea, the Churchwardens of the Parish Church to be
the trustees. The interest on the money was to be given
to twelve needy persons, not under sixty years of age, the
money to be distributed on February 1st, the anniversary
of his birthday. The recipients to be different persons
each year, and selected by the Overseers and Church-
Edward Dagnau, Bequest.
This testator died in 1881, leaving ^"ioo in trust of
Churchwardens, to be expended in purchasing, every
December, as many loaves as the money would buy, the
loaves to weigh four pounds, and to be distributed among
widows, born and residing in Battersea, and not under
sixty years of age.
Henry Smith Bequest.
This testator left, in 1883, about ^600 for various
charities, a portion of which was to be spent among the
poor of Battersea, and the trustees expend the money
in the purchase of great coats, value £1 each, these coats
are distributed every winter to men considered the most
The Ely Charity.
In 1891 Ashley W. G. Allen left the sum of ^3»o°°
in trust to the Vicar and Churchwardens of St. Mary,
Battersea, to invest for the purpose of founding " The
98 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Ely Charity," in memory of his grandfather, some time
Bishop of Ely. The trustees were to expend the divi-
dends for the benefit of the deserving poor of both sexes
belonging to the parish of St. Mary. In 1898 the income
amounted to ^114 19s. 4d. The trustees apply the money
in contribution to Bolingbroke Hospital, a special bed
being maintained in respect of the fund.
The Copland Bequest.
Elizabeth Susan Copeland, in 1893, left £180 to be
invested for the benefit of the poor residing in the parish
of Christ Church, Battersea, the money is expended in
gifts of coal, meat, milk, etc., which is distributed by the
Vicar of Christ Church.
In January, 1897, Emma, Lady Osbourne, transferred
to the official trustees of Charitable Funds, the sum of
^1,891. The dividend of this money to be in keeping
of the Vicar of St. Mary's, to be applied for the relief of
the poor, the money to be distributed in pensions,
pecuniary gifts, clothing, or otherwise. Recipients must
be members of the Church of England, and residents of
Battersea. The charity is called " Webb's Trust."
The records for 1786 show money left to the amount
°f £335 for the poor of Battersea, but it cannot be traced,
and there is no account of it ever having been dispensed.
BATTERSEA CHURCHES OF HISTORICAL
Baptist Meeting House.
THE first Baptist Meeting House dates from 1736, and
was in the York Road. The Rev. Brown was minister
for over forty years. In 1796 the Rev. Joseph Hughes,
M.A., was appointed the minister, he at once commenced a
fund to build a church, and with such success that in 1797
the first church was built and Mr. Hughes was appointed
the pastor. Soon after this he originated the " Surrey
Mission Society," which did much good work in the early
part of the nineteenth century. He was a great friend of
Wilberforce and Henry Thornton, with whom he was con-
nected in forming the British and Foreign Bible Society.
The present Baptist Church was erected in 1870.
This church is built of brick, and has a tower with
a conical copper spire, the belfry contains a set of eight
bells, six of which were in the old church, but were
re-cast before being placed in their present position.
The ground upon which the church is erected was pre-
sented by Earl Spencer, and the total cost of the building
was about £5, 300, which amount was raised by the sale
of the church pews on a ninety -nine years' lease, the
sale of estates belonging to the church, and the grant-
ing of annuities on lives. The church was opened for
public service in November, 1777.
ioo HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Was built in 1828 near Battersea Fields, and was
known as St. George's-in-the-Fields, the style is what is
termed English architecture. The building cost a little
over ^2,900, which was defrayed out of a rate, and by
a grant from the Parliamentary Commissioners. The
churchyard was closed for burials in 1852.
The first church of this denomination in Battersea was
erected in Bridge Road West about 1845 ; before this time
the Wesleyans used to meet in private houses where they
held their church services, these were termed "cottage
meetings " ; they also used to meet for worship in a large
upper room over a joiner's shop in King Street. The
church was enlarged in 1864 and again in 1871.
Built in 1849 from designs by Mr. Charles Lee, the
church is constructed of Bath stone, and has a tower with
a spire. The total cost of the building was ^"5,600, most of
which was raised by subscription. Mr. E. Fownes, head
of the glove factory, presented the land upon which the
church is built.
Methodist Free Church.
In 1858 this church was built in Church Road by the
Free Church members, who had been much persecuted in
the early days of their existence. The church was
enlarged in 1864.
BATTERSEA CHURCHES. 101
The "New" Baptist Church.
This religious body was commenced in Battersea about
1862 by a working-man, who used to hold the meetings of
service in his own house. He soon gathered men of
influence around him who contributed funds to build a
place of worship, and the first church was built in Chatham
Road at the cost of ^1,000. Charles and Thomas Spurgeon
have preached here on several occasions.
The church was built in 1862, it is designed in the
early English style from drawings by E- C. Robins. Three
thousand three hundred pounds were expended in com-
pleting this building. The opening service was held on
May 5th, 1863.
This edifice in the Bridge Road has a fine tower and
spire, it is built of " Kentish rag " with Bath stone
dressings. The total cost of the building was ^4,500 ; this
was the first Congregational Church in Battersea. The
foundation stone was laid on September 17th, 1866, and
the church was opened for services in 1867.
The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and
This church was built in 1868 out of funds supplied by
a Spanish lady, Mrs. Shea, and private contributions, the
Duke of Norfolk contributing ^500. In connection with
this church was the convent of Notre Dame, and a boys'
and girls' school.
io2 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
This church was built in 1873 at a cost of ,£6,500, it is
in Gothic style and consists of a chancel, nave, aisles, and
transept, the architect was W. White, F.S.A. The church
will seat six hundred persons.
Church of the Sacred Heart.
This Roman Catholic Church was erected in 1875, and
was then a small iron building which was built at the cost
of the Countess of Stackpool. Schools have been added
to the new church.
Was erected in 1875 and cost over £10,000, it is a brick
Gothic structure with a lofty tower which can be seen at a
great distance. There are some very fine carvings on the
capitals inside this church by Henry Hems. There is
room for seating eight hundred worshippers. The old
tower was removed in 191 1 and the present one erected.
This church has a very fine vaulted roof, the building
is in the early English style, and was erected in 1877 at a
cost of £3,000. It will seat five hundred persons.
This church was erected at a cost of £4,000 in 1870,
from designs by E. C Robins, the style is French Gothic.
It was consecrated by Bishop Wilberforce (son of the
emancipator). The church will seat seven hundred persons.
BATTERSEA CHURCHES. 103
This building, which is in the Gothic style, cost over
,£13,000. It is a fine structure built from designs by James
Knowles, it will seat nearly one thousand persons. The
church was opened for public worship in 1870. This
church is one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in
Primitive Methodist Church.
The first church was built in the New Road about
1870, some ground was also bought in the New Road and
schools built. Before the church was erected, the work of
this religious body was carried on in an old building in
Stewart's L,ane, which was used as a place of worship.
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PAST VICARS OF BATTERSEA 105
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OLD BATTERSEA SCHOOLS.
IN the far off days, long before education became com-
pulsory and without cost to the scholar or his parents,
the teaching of the three R's was in a very scrappy
and unsatisfactory condition. Much of the education then
available depended upon bequests left by wealthy and
charitable citizens, whose bequests were sometimes supple-
mented by the pence of the children attending the schools,
and by Government grants.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the
stream of education for the masses was at a very low ebb.
Most of the parish churches had small schools under their
charge, which were often inefficiently conducted. This
educational stagnation continued until the beginning of
the nineteenth century, when Dr. Bell, who had occupied
the post of manager to the Educational Institute of Madras,
wrote a book on a system of education by monitorship,
a system which he had practised in Madras with great
success. In 1811 the National Education Society was
formed to put this educational system into an organised
form. The society was managed by members of the
Church of England, with the Archbishop of Canterbury
as President. A new impetus to education was thus given,
as the following figures show: In 1812 there were only
fifty-two schools under the Society's control, in 1818
there were three thousand and fifty-two schools in con-
nection with the Society, and a few years later the total
number of schools had risen to nearly twelve thousand.
Another great factor in the early education of the people
OLD BATTERSEA SCHOOLS. 107
was the British and Foreign School Society, which did
good work in the pioneer days of scholastic work.
The Church of England, by founding "National
Schools," did a great work in educating the people ; still
the result upon the nation was far from satisfactory.
Fifty years ago it was not uncommon to find adults who
could neither read or write, never having been to school.
The old marriage registers also testify to the ignorance of
the people by the number of crosses which were made in
place of signatures. To remedy this, night schools were
started for the teaching of adults, which schools had a
certain amount of success ; adult schools were also held in
factories after working hours. The first factory school
in England was held in Price's Candle Works at Vauxhall
Battersea, like other towns and villages, suffered from
this want of a sound system of schooling, and some of her
citizens came forward and assisted the boys and girls
of a by-gone generation to obtain a little educational
St. John's School.
In the year 1700, Sir Walter St. John left, by deed of
gift, the rents and profits accruing from land situated in
Camberwell and Battersea for the endowment of a school
at Battersea, to teach and instruct twenty poor boys to
read, write, and cast up accounts. No child was to be
admitted under the age of eight, or to remain in the
school after the age of fifteen. The school was managed
by trustees, and children were admitted into the school
by the votes of the inhabitants. By a will dated March
8th, 1705, Sir Walter gave to the Minister of Battersea,
to the schoolmaster, and to the trustees of the school, the
sum of ^200 for the purchase of land, the income to be
used for apprenticing boys to trades, after leaving the
school. The school consisted of a house and small
108 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
garden, the rooms of the house which were not used for
the purpose of the school were let to poor people at a
small rental. In 1731 L,ady St. John left in her will the
sum of ;£ioo, the interest of which was to be used for the
purpose of apprenticing one boy or girl to a trade. The
St. John School continued in existence as a separate
institution until 1815, when it was united to the National
Grovb British School.
Old records show that about 1800 a charity school
was opened in the York Road which was supported by
voluntary contributions. The school was used for the
purpose of " teaching poor boys reading, writing and the
lower rules of arithmetic." The establishment was under
the management of a committee, chosen by the sub-
scribers. This school was carried on until 1858, when
a new building was erected, consisting of a large hall
and other rooms. The building was then used for both
Sunday and day schools, and received a Government
grant until 1887, when the day school was closed, the place
being open only as a Sunday school. The building
was finally demolished in 191 2.
St. Mary's School.
In 1 85 1 Earl Spencer and Mr. Shaw Lefevre gave a
school site in Green Lane for the erection of a school to
educate female children and the adults of the poorer
classes residing in Battersea. The vicar was to have
managing control, he was also to have the use of the
building as a Sunday school. The school was erected on
this site at a cost of ^2,000, this money being contributed
by Miss Champion. In 1875 the school was considerably
enlarged, by which accommodation was provided for
boys, the cost of the new building amounted to ^1,500,
OLD BATTERSEA SCHOOLS. 109
which was paid by Mr. Philip Cazenove, who was one of
the school managers. The school was conducted, on
Church of England lines, for the education of boys, girls
and infants, and supported by Government grants, the
only endowment being the site and the buildings.
St. George's National School.
John Spencer Lucas, in 1857, gave a plot of land in
New Street, Battersea, for the erection of a school which
was to be used for educating children and adults belong-
ing to the working classes. The school was built in the
following year and served a good purpose for man}' years.
In 1895 a portion of the school premises were sold to the
South Western Railway Company for the sum of ^2,750,
which was paid to the trustees, the vicar and church-
wardens of St. George's Church. A large portion of this
money was expended in repairs, alterations and improve-
ments of the school buildings. The school was conducted
as a Church of England school, supported by voluntary
contributions and by grants.
Christ Church National School.
In 1866 a plot of land was purchased abutting on
Chatham Street, Orkney Street and Anerly Street, for
the purpose of erecting a school, at a cost of ^520, and
conveyed to the minister and churchwardens of Christ
Church, Battersea ; the school was erected for educating
the poor children of the parish. In 1871 the district of
St. Saviour's was formed, which had an interest in the
school, as the building was used as a Sunday school. In
1876 it ceased to be used as a day school, as it failed to
meet the requirements of the educational department.
The school was built and supported by endowments,
voluntary contributions and grants.
no HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
The Masonic School.
The Royal Masonic School was built in 1793 for the
purpose of educating and maintaining a number of girls,
the children of " Masons " in reduced circumstances. The
school was founded at the suggestion of Chevalier Ruspini,
who was surgeon to King George IV. The first school
was built in St. George's Field's, near the Obelisk, and was
supported entirely by voluntary contributions. In 1851
land was purchased at Battersea for the erection of a new
school, which was opened in 1853. This school had the
support of King Edward VII., and other members of the
St. James' School.
This industrial school was built in 1851 and opened in
1852, out of the funds of a charity left in 1806. One
hundred and forty boys were admitted, vacancies being
filled up as the boys left. When they finished their
term at the school, the sum of ^10 was given for each
boy to be taught a trade, or assisted in learning some
business. In connection with this school Mrs. Anne
Newton left, by will, in 1806, the sum of ^1,000, the
interest of this money was to be given annually to the best
boy in the school. The will went into Chancery, and
the school only received about ^"500. The best boy was
selected by his fellow scholars and the superintendent.
SIXTY years ago Battersea was a small parish under
the rule of several authorities, viz., a Vestry, a High-
way Board, Overseers, and Inspectors of Lighting.
The Vestry was composed of every ratepayer in the parish
and was not an elected body. The vicar was the chair-
man, and the meetings were held in the parish church
vestry room. Despite the place of meeting, the debates
were often of a stormy character, and the language used
far from parliamentary, the votes were taken by show of
hands, and if a poll was demanded, the churchwardens
would go round the parish asking each ratepayer how he
wished to vote on the question at issue, the result was
recorded in a book and reported to the Vestry. The Over-
seers made and collected the poor rate, and tabulated the
list of persons entitled to vote in parliamentary elections.
The Highway Board was elected in open Vestry by
show of hands, and consisted of eight members. The In-
spectors of Lighting were elected in a similar manner.
In 1854 Sir Benjamin Hall, Commissioner of Works,
framed a Bill for the improvement of local government
which was very comprehensive, and was entitled " The
Metropolis Local Management Act." This Bill passed the
Houses of Parliament and became law in 1855. Under this
Act the various parishes were divided under schedules
known as A, B, and C, with varied powers. Schedule A
comprised the larger parishes, and the smaller ones came
under Schedule B, several of these parishes in one area
ii2 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
being dominated by the Board of Works. Schedule C
comprised the Inns of Court, and other extra areas.
At this time the population of Battersea did not exceed
11,500, and therefore came under Schedule B, with its
limited powers of administration, and no funds at its
disposal. The number of members composing the Vestry
was regulated by the population, the smallest number
being twenty-four, and the highest one hundred and
twenty. Battersea's first elected Vestry comprised the
lowest number of members. The Board of Works had to
carry out the duties of a highway, sewer and sanitary
authority. The Act provided that the vicar of the parish
should remain ex-officio chairman of the new Vestry, and
the churchwardens were to be co-opted members. The
election of Vestrymen took place annually. At this time
Penge, then a small hamlet, formed part of the parish of
The inhabitants of the parish had certain Lammas
rights over some land known as the Battersea Marsh,
this land was required for the formation of Battersea Park,
and for those rights the Government paid ^1,500, which
was to be expended for the benefit of the parish, and as
there was no hall for public meetings in the parish, it
was decided to build one for that purpose, this was strongly
opposed by the churchwardens, who had other uses for the
money. They took legal proceedings against those op-
posed to them, but in the Law Courts they were defeated
and had to pay all costs. The Lammas Hall was then
built, and proved a great boon to the parish ; for many
years it was the meeting place for the new Vestry, and was
used for the holding of public meetings. The building is
now used as a branch library and reading rooms.
The rateable value of Battersea in 1857 was £72, 148.
About this time there came into existence the first rate-
payers' association in Battersea, which was destined to be
the forerunner of many others, it was called the "Battersea
Ratepayers' Protection Society," and seems to have found
LOCAL GOVERNMENT. 113
plenty of work to do in watching the ratepayers' interests ;
its meetings were held at the Railway Tavern, Battersea
Rise, and many of them were very stormy and of a per-
sonal character, which in those far-off days was a weak-
ness of most ratepayers' associations, and to some extent
In 1853 the parish churchyard was closed for inter-
ments, and a Burial Board was formed consisting of nine
members. One of the first acts of the Board was to pur-
chase about seven and a half acres of land on Battersea
Rise, which they laid out as a cemetery. This served its
purpose until 1885, when the Vestry and the Burial Board
resolved to provide a much larger place of burial, and
several sites were suggested, but the final selection was a
piece of land of over one hundred and twenty-four acres
in the parish of Morden, known as Hobalt's Farm. This
cemetery, with the buildings, cost nearly ^25,000.
In 1879 an effort was made to get the Baths and Wash-
houses Acts adopted, but this was not successful until 1887
when a piece of the Latchmere allotments was obtained as
a building site, and the first public baths were erected in
Battersea after nine years' fight had been waged by the
As the population grew the number of members upon
the Vestry increased, and in 1882 it had reached the maxi-
mum of one hundred and twenty members, with increased
representation upon the District Board.
Early in the year i860 an attempt was made to obtain
a public library for the parish. A meeting of the rate-
payers was called and Sir Page Wood took the chair, but
the meeting voted against the proposal and the matter was
dropped, to be again revived in 1883, when a poll was
taken of the ratepayers, with the result that the majority
were not in favour of adopting the Libraries Act. The
promoters were not dismayed but went on with their work
until 1887, when they demanded another poll, and this
time with success, getting a majority in their favour.
ii 4 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
The Public Libraries Act was adopted, and Mr.
Andrew Cameron — a well-known public man in bis day —
was the first chairman of the Commissioners, and Mr.
Lawrence Inkster was appointed secretary and librarian.
Temporary offices were taken at 346 Battersea Park Road,
which was also opened as a reading room, and on the 28th
November, 1888, the Latchmere reading room was opened.
The Battersea Literary Institute having been closed the
churchwardens transferred the books, about one thousand
volumes, to the new library. The meetings of the Com-
missioners was held in the Lammas Hall, which was
opened as a reading room and lending library with about
five thousand volumes. Mr. O. V. Morgan, the first
member of Parliament for Battersea, opened the library on
October 25th, 1888. The Central Library on Lavender Hill
was erected in 1889, by Messrs. Holloway Bros., at a cost
of £8,600 including purchase of site. Sir John Lubbock
(now Lord Avebury), laid the foundation stone on May
2nd. The library was opened on March 26th, 1890, by
Mr. A. J. Mundella, M.P. The Lammas Hall now became
a branch library. The Lurline Gardens branch was built
in the same year at a cost of £2,070 including the freehold,
and was opened on September 30th, 1890, by Mr. J. S.
Up to 1873 the parish had not been divided into wards,
but in that year, by order of the Board of Works, the
parish was divided into four wards. About this time a
great deal of scandal was being talked about the doings of
the Board, and rumours of an ugly nature were in circula-
tion, some of the members were men with axes to grind,
and the Board of Works came to be commonly known as
the Board of " Perks," all this did a great deal to bring
about the extinction of the Metropolitan Board of Works
Battersea did not obtain incorporation until 1887,
many efforts had been made to get the Vestry incorporated
during the previous ten years, deputations had been sent
LOCAL GOVERNMENT. 115
to the Home Office, and the claims of Battersea had been
pressed forward by Mr. Edward Wood, and Mr. Harrop,
Vestry Clerk, on every possible occasion, but no success
came until 1887, when Mr. C. S. By worth enlisted the
assistance of Mr. O. V. Morgan, M.P., and in that year
a Bill was before the House of Commons to separate the
parish of Battersea from the Wandsworth district and the
Board of Works. Mr. Gilliatt, then member for Clapham,
ably supported Mr. Morgan, and in due course the Bill
received the Royal assent. Under this Act it was provided
that the parish should take over the offices at Battersea
Rise belonging to the District Board, and retain the ser-
vices of the officers of the Board. On March 22nd, 1888,
Mr. Byworth, who had been appointed Vestry Clerk in
1885, took possession of the Battersea Rise offices, and the
Vestry met for the first time as a corporate body. Mr. W.
Davies was elected the first chairman.
As the parish increased in population, and the work of
the Vestry became greater, the Battersea Rise offices were
found to be much too small for the growing needs of the
parish, and schemes were put forward by the Vestry for the
erection of a Town Hall. Various sites were suggested,
including the corner of St. John's Road, where Messrs.
Arding & Hobbs' premises now stand, Battersea Park
Road and Falcon Road, but the final decision of the Vestry
was in favour of Lavender Hill, and a committee was in-
structed in 1891 to purchase the Elm House Estate, which
was then in the market, and in 1892 the plans, etc., were
passed, and the present municipal buildings were erected
at a cost of a little over ^"30,000. The opening ceremony
took place on November 15th, 1893, by the Earl of
Rosebery, and shortly after the Vestry removed their
officials from Battersea Rise to the new buildings, which
have since been the centre of municipal authority.
In 1894 the vicar and churchwardens ceased to be ex-
officio members of the Vestry, and the old Burial Board,
the Commissioners of Baths and Wash-houses, and the
n6 HISTORIC BATTERSEA.
Commissioners of Public Libraries, were transferred to the
Vestry. This form of local government by Vestry con-
tinued up to the close of 1899, when the Borough Councils
came into existence as a new administrative body with
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